Guarded Optimism

The Redskins finally received help at the biggest problem spot on the offense -- left guard.

Washington tried various ways to fill its vacancy at left guard. The Redskins used right tackles, career backups and youngsters with promise.

None of them worked.

So they turned to a legitimate player to fill the void. Washington traded a conditional mid-round draft choice to the New York Jets in exchange for veteran guard Pete Kendall. The Redskins then handed him a new contract, a two-year deal worth $5 million, with a $1.5 million bonus.

The pick is believed to be a fourth-rounder in 2009 or a fifth-rounder in '08, depending on how much time Kendall plays..

It shouldn't be a problem working him into the lineup. Todd Wade will return as a backup at right tackle, where he's spent his entire career until this offseason. Wade struggled trying to play left guard, admitting as much throughout camp. Some teammates predicted he would not even make it out of OTAs at the position, knowing he did not fit the mold of a guard.

Then the Redskins turned to Mike Pucillo, who played better than Wade but is considered a backup -- and better at center.

''They had to do something,'' one Redskin said. Enter Kendall. He's considered a vocal player and good to have in the locker room; the New York media voted him their Good Guy award winner the past two seasons.

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs claimed Kendall could help the team at a couple positions. But there's no doubt he'll be playing left guard. The move was applauded by one NFL talent evaluator, who termed the move ''an upgrade.''

...Gibbs said Todd Collins will start against Baltimore on Saturday. Mark Brunell will play ahead of Collins in the preseason finale at Jacksonville. Jason Campbell said he hopes to return for that game.


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