ASHBURN, Va. — You would think with all the questions about Jason Campbell's ability the last nine months that no one would be more anxious to open the season than the Washington Redskins quarterback.
Can he be a franchise quarterback? Was his confidence shaken for good when he realized the front office wanted someone else?
But Campbell knows the second-guessing won't end Sunday against the New York Giants.
"They still won't be answered," Campbell said Wednesday with a smile. "We've got a whole year to go."
But at least there will be concrete numbers to back up whatever Campbell arguments anyone wants to make as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. If he doesn't play well, he almost certainly won't be back in 2010, and owner Dan Snyder and front office chief Vinny Cerrato will rue more than ever their unsuccessful attempts to land Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez during the offseason.
If Campbell does play well, Snyder and Cerrato can make the case that they lit the fire under the fifth-year quarterback from Auburn.
The preseason reviews were mixed. After unimpressive performances in limited action in two games, Campbell played a promising half in the third August game against the New England Patriots.
"I'll be shocked if he doesn't play well," said Cerrato, the executive vice president of football operations. "I don't know if anybody could have more pressure on him in a preseason game than the media put on him for the New England game and the guy came out and played great."
Somewhere in between is coach Jim Zorn, who was the one who gave Campbell daily updates during the Cutler-Sanchez discussions in the spring.
"We didn't sit for hours and agonize over the issues," Zorn said. "We got together, it was informational, and I'd come challenge him with 'What are you going to do with this now?' "
As the season goes along, there are sure to be debates over what constitutes a franchise performance. It should be noted that Campbell's career completion percentage (58.5) and passer rating (80.4) are both higher than those of his well-paid counterpart with the Giants, Eli Manning (55.9 and 76.1).
But Campbell has never thrown more than 13 touchdown passes in a season. Manning has topped 20 TDs for four straight years. And, of course, Manning has won a Super Bowl, while Campbell has yet to appear in a playoff game.