Colt adjusting to life as an NFL rookie
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Leila Wai
ASHBURN, Va. — A year ago, life was anything but "mundane" for Colt Brennan.
He was in the midst of leading the University of Hawai'i football team to an undefeated season, its first outright Western Athletic Conference title and its first Bowl Championship Series game with a Sugar Bowl appearance. Fans lined up for hours for an autograph. Nationally televised appearances before dawn. Final exams also awaited in his final college semester.
Fast forward to 2008 and the Washington Redskins' rookie quarterback spends most of his time on the sidelines, observing, absorbing and waiting.
"Basically, I just watch and try to fill the role of what I'm supposed to do ... be supportive of the guys, just kind of watch and learn," Brennan said. "Sometimes it gets a little mundane because you just want to play and you know you can't, but that's just part of it and you really can't complain because they take care of you at this level. It's something that I really enjoy and I'm fine with where I'm at right now."
Brennan, a sixth-round draft pick in April, is the No. 3 quarterback behind Jason Campbell, a former No. 1 pick, and veteran Todd Collins.
It is a role he has accepted.
"It's tough because to be the starter you have to be responsible and accountable for so much information," Brennan said. "And (as the No. 3) you don't get any reps, you don't get any chance to really practice anything, but they still hold you accountable and that's the challenge."
While he may not get the reps he wants or needs, he works on what he can. After practice, he runs wind sprints with Campbell and Collins. Every piece of instruction to improve his footwork is most likely advice he will use in the future.
"I just know that in the end what they want to see is a guy go in there and succeed, and I just put it on that — what's my best way of succeeding if I have to go in there," Brennan said. "That's how I basically get ready. I focus on what I'll really need to know, focus on if I have to go in there what I'll need to do, and just keep it at that."
Campbell, who was selected 25th overall in the 2005 NFL draft, explained some of the major differences between college and the NFL.
"It's a different adjustment because in college you're used to playing a lot ... you're so used to being a star and now when you get to the NFL it's all different because you feel like a little boy to everybody," Campbell said.
Not only that, but gone are the days when your teammates are only a few years older or younger than you.
"You're playing with a bunch of grown men and guys around you have families," Campbell said. "It's not like in college when you go home and you go to your friend's apartment and you play games. Now, it's the guys going home to their families and you're sitting at home bored. You are trying to find something to do."
Campbell is swarmed outside the locker room by reporters three rows deep, video cameras and tape recorders vying for the best angle. That once was Brennan's role at UH when he was the go-to guy for soundbites.
Rookie tight end Fred Davis admitted to the frustrations of not playing right away after an honors-filled career at Southern California.
"Sometimes it can be a little bit hard," Davis said. "You want to get out there and play right away. But you just have to take your time and wait your turn.
"Other than that, it's fun. You finally have a job. It's your job now so you have to take it a little more seriously than college because it's a business atmosphere. But other than that it's fun. It's still football."
Brennan's fans in Hawai'i often watch the Redskins on TV just to catch a glimpse of him, even if he is only in the background. He's been the No. 3 quarterback in all 11 of the Redskins' games this season, and hasn't seen any playing time. Brennan battled back from hip surgery before the draft and reports of being too light. He weighed 185 at the Senior Bowl but gained 30 pounds to his current weight of 215.
In the preseason, Brennan played in all five games, completing 36 of 53 passes for 411 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. His quarterback rating was 109.9.
"I think I definitely had to come in and fight a learning curve and fight a hip injury that I was coming back from," he said. "It was really difficult but I expected it to be difficult and I was real tough just about how I handled everything. I think as I kept having little stints of success it was something to build on, and once I got my confidence going I've been progressing really well."
Campbell said it is Brennan's competitiveness that will lead him to a successful career in the NFL.
"He is definitely a hard competitor and has the desire to win," Campbell said. "If he continues to do those things in practice each and every day and just understand the National Football League is all about patience, and when your opportunity comes, whether it's with the Redskins or whether it is with someone else, always just make sure that you're ready."
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