We don’t often see training camp battles on display this clearly. With Mark Brunell sitting out practice (actually he was there standing with the offense and a very interested spectator), veteran Todd Collins and second-year player Jason Campbell took turns running the offense in Tuesday afternoon’s practice. The two are fighting it out to see which of them will be the #2 quarterback, active on game days, and which will have the role of the third string, emergency QB.
Collins took the reigns of the starting offense first. Joe Gibbs cautioned everyone not to read anything into that. He said that Collins and Campbell alternate who is in the #2 quarterback slot and that it was Collins’ turn.
They started out with a spirited “walk through” which really was more like a spirited sprint as the offense hustled up and down the field, running plays against no defenders. A good chunk of Al Saunders’ 700-page playbook was on display. There were option passes by Antwaan Randle El, who is not in the quarterback sweepstakes, end arounds, fake left, throw right screens, delay draws, and other tools in the offensive’s massive bag.
This being the last day of two-a-days, the coaches decided that they’d had enough of drills and the like and they went straight to 11 on 11 play. Campbell threw a nice, deep out on a rope to Jimmy Farris and then made a good decision to throw the ball into the dirt when the defense sniffed out a screen.
Collins responded. As James Thrash broke away from Carlos Rogers Collins launched a picture-perfect, arching bomb that hit the streaking Thrash in stride about 40 yards downfield. Santana Moss broke off his pattern in the hook zone and had a little space between a trio of defenders. Collins smartly threw it low, where only Moss could make the catch. He did. The next play Moss went deeper and Collins displayed excellent touch in zinging the ball into his hands.
And so it went. Campbell to Cooley on a seam route. Collins to Moss again deep down the right sideline. Saunders was getting quite a workout running up to congratulate receivers for making catches.
To be sure, neither quarterback was perfect. A couple of times Campbell tried to finesse the ball in to a receiver when a pass with more mustard on it was called for and the passes were batted away. Collins misfired a time or two.
Overall, it was some pretty good quarterback play on the part of both Campbell and Collins. In the long run, it probably won’t mean a lot. The backup quarterback position won’t be decided in one day and play in preseason games will weigh heavily in the decision. However, we won’t have the opportunity there to watch the two of them duke it out, virtually blow for blow like we did on Tuesday.