Campbell ready to help out in Cleveland
BEREA – Last January Browns owner James Haslam said that quarterback Brandon Weeden would have a new competitor to deal with in training camp.
Haslam didn’t say that the new guy would finally end the long nightmare that has been the search for stability at quarterback.
Welcome to Cleveland, Jason Campbell. For your reported $3.75 million contract, you get the pleasure of joining a long list of quarterbacks that have tried to solve the mystery of the position while dealing with fan and media criticism after throwing their first incompletion.
Campbell, an eight-year NFL veteran, was a backup to Jay Cutler last season with the Chicago Bears. He was selected in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Washington Redskins following a stellar college career at Auburn.
He comes to Cleveland with “journeyman” status. There have been no promises of playing time. As it is almost every season, Campbell will compete for the starting role.
“Coach (Rob Chudzinski) hasn’t said anything or promised anything,” Campbell said during a conference call Thursday. “We’ll work to try to improve our football team. Whatever my role is, I’m going to help along the way.”
This is a borderline wake-up call for Weeden, who struggled in his rookie season. Campbell has a career 60.8 percent completion average for 14,682 yards, 76 touchdowns and 52 interceptions. His career passing rating is 82.5.
Those numbers are good compared to Weeden’s statistics last season. Weeden never adapted to former coach Pat Shurmur’s offense, completing 57.4 percent of his passes for 3,385 yards, 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
There are no guarantees that Weeden will enter training camp as the front-runner. His status has undoubtedly changed in the transition of ownership from Randy Lerner to Haslam. Weeden was picked by former general manager Tom Heckert. New general manager Mike Lombardi has no loyalties.
“Weeden was a first-round draft pick last year,” Campbell said. “He’s going to have an opportunity to grow as well. I’m not going to get caught up in the speculation that might be going on. I definitely think I can still play at a high level.”
Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs was with the Redskins when Campbell was selected 25th overall. Campbell saw limited action in the first two seasons, appearing in no games in 2005 and starting seven in 2006.
Campbell started 45 games from 2007-09 for Redskins coach Jim Zorn. In ’09 he threw for 3,618 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Campbell was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2010. He played one season for Tom Cable and one for Hue Jackson in 2011. The Raiders were 4-2 in 2011 when Campbell suffered a season-ending broken collarbone in a game against the Browns.
“I felt like I was coming into my prime,” Campbell said. “It was my third year in that offensive system. I felt I was really taking off.”
Campbell appeared in six games last season. He started one in relief of Cutler.
“It’s always tough when you’re changing offenses,” Campbell said. “You see guys like (Peyton) Manning and (Tom) Brady and (Aaron) Rodgers – those guys have been in one system their whole careers. When you’re always changing, you’re always re-learning things.”
Campbell thinks he’ll be comfortable in the system that will be installed by offensive coordinator Norv Turner. He played is a similar system in Washington for coordinator Al Saunders.