The revolving door has spun around once again in Cleveland, revealing yet another quarterback change for the Browns.
For Sunday’s game against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, Jason Campbell steps under center to start an NFL regular-season game for the first time since 2011.
The 31-year-old replaces demoted starter Brandon Weeden, who was uninspiring in his chance to reclaim his grip on the job following Bryan Hoyer's season-ending knee injury.
Now, it’s Campbell’s turn to try to make an impression on a new Browns’ regime led by CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi.
Although Campbell is probably best suited for backup duty at this stage of his career following average starting stints with the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders, this does represent an audition of sorts for the former Mississippi State standout. In nine NFL seasons, Campbell has passed for 14,688 yards, 76 touchdowns and 52 interceptions for an 82.4 quarterback rating.
The Browns (3-4) are tied for second-place in the AFC North with the Ravens (3-4), who hold a tiebreaker edge with a win over Cleveland earlier this season at M&T Bank Stadium.
“It’s tough switching over like that,” Campbell told Cleveland reporters. “At the same time, being in the league for a while, I think that’s helped me a lot from having to adapt through different changes.
"It’s still all about rhythm and consistency. So hopefully having a full week to prep and to run plays with these guys and grow, hopefully that can give me the opportunity to get back to where I once was.”
The Browns’ quarterback issues have made it difficult for their offense to gain much traction.
It’s been a lot of hard luck between Weeden spraining his right thumb and Hoyer tearing his anterior cruciate ligament after leading the Browns to consecutive wins.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski likes what he’s seen from Campbell, but it’s going to be a tough test for him against a fifth-ranked Chiefs defense that leads the NFL with 35 sacks. Linebacker Justin Houston has done most of the damage with 10 sacks and a forced fumble.
“They’ve rallied behind him like they have every time that somebody else has been in,” Chudzinski said.
Campbell said he’ll resist the urge to try to be a hero and will rely on his teammates.
“It’s not about one person,” Campbell said. “I know everyone wanted to say it’s about Brandon, but it really wasn’t about one person. We all, as a collective group, have to do a better job play in and play out of doing our own job. I think the only thing I should do is just try to be a leader.”
As for Weeden, there are plenty of rumors that he could be a candidate for relocation with the NFL trade deadline approaching Oct. 29.
However, Weeden emphasized that he doesn’t want to be traded.
“Absolutely. I love it here,'' Weeden told reporters. "I think this team is on the rise. We’re doing some good things and I’m excited about the group we have. I love this town.”
Weeden was once traded by the New York Yankees as a minor league baseball player, but isn’t looking for a repeat despite being passed over for Campbell.
"I've been traded before, and those things are way out of my control,'' Weeden said. "I don't have a crystal ball. I can't see the future. Whatever happens, this league is just like baseball. I got traded in baseball and you just never know. Our focus is Sunday, and whatever happens on that is out of our control.
"I'm a competitor. With that being said, I'm going to support Jason just like he supported me. He's been outstanding. He's helped me a lot along the way and that's my role now and that's the way I'm going to approach it this week."
Steelers’ Timmons playing hurt
Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons played through pain against the Ravens, breaking his left hand when it collided with the helmet of offensive guard Marshal Yanda during the fourth quarter of a 19-16 victory.
It didn’t hamper Timmons’ play as he recorded a game-high 17 tackles, including a dozen solos, helping to limit Ravens running back Ray Rice to 45 yards on 15 carries. Since reviewing the game, the coaching staff boosted Timmons' total to 20 tackles.
Now, Timmons will line up with a cast on his hand against the Oakland Raiders
“Pain is a part of this game,” Timmons told Pittsburgh reporters. “You know what you sign up for when you play football. I am a linebacker. I love the physicality of it. I am excited to go out there and play with my teammates and just always do what I can do.
“Catching the ball is going to be a little more difficult. I will have to do more one-handed attempts than two. Other than that it is still the same.”
In other Steelers news, cornerback Ike Taylor restructured his contract to reduce his salary-cap figure from $9.546 million to $7.968 million. The remainder of his $6 million base salary was paid out in a $2.97 million signing bonus.
The Steelers now have $1.675 million in available salary-cap space under the NFL limit of $123 million. They were roughly $200,000 over the limit until this transaction.
In 2014, his salary-cap figure is now up to $11.942 million after an original figure of $10.454 million.
First-place Bengals aiming high
If the Bengals defeat the New York Jets on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, they’ll run their record to 4-0 at home for the first time since the 1988 season when they went to the AFC championship.
In order to do so, they'll need to confuse and contain Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
“Obviously, it's a huge game for us,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said during a press conference. “The Jets are playing very good football. They're a strong, downhill-running team. They run the power gaps, things like that. You've got to get your pads down and play. It'll be a physical game up front.
“Defensively, they're about as strong as you can be with their front group. We've got a huge game up front, and we need to have both sides of the ball played well, and be efficient with the ball. We've got, a big game against a really good team.”
Smith led the Jets to an overtime win over the New England Patriots last week with one touchdown and one interception.
For the season, Smith has passed for 1,723 yards, eight touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
“Geno's done well,” Lewis said. “They've done a fine job of building their offensive team around him. Schematically, they’re involving the play-action drop backs, the nakeds and the screens. And there’s the involvement of the Wildcat stuff they're doing with other guys, last week with Josh Cribbs, and then to the read option that Geno is running.
"There's a lot of scheme. There's a lot of things. He's doing a good job of managing it. He's played well and efficiently, and they’re winning games.”
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