Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Campbell making best of tough situation
By Michael C. Wright
Jason Campbell lost his starting job to a broken collarbone, but he's looking to make the most of the situation with the Bears.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Tumbling down the depth chart into a backup role, Chicago Bears reserve quarterback Jason Campbell recognizes the difficulty associated with humbling himself to accept the current situation.
It's all run through his mind: the fact he's started 70 games over the last six years, the broken collarbone suffered in 2011 in Oakland that may have led to the current situation, whether Peyton Manning's seemingly inconceivable availability in free agency affected his ability to find work as a starter.
In the end though, "it could be a good challenge," Campbell said Wednesday.
"Of course every guy wants to be a starter, especially you feel like you're not a starter in the league anymore because you broke your collarbone," said Campbell, a former first-round pick. "You're in a situation where Peyton Manning was a free agent, and you just never knew how that situation was going to turn out. A lot of teams were interested in him. Of course, if you take him out of the picture, things might have been different because you never know what the situation would have presented.
"But you've got a high-profile guy like him and every team is trying to jump at him. It kind of puts everything on the shelf and you can't just sit around and keep waiting and keep waiting and try to figure out what's going to happen and how this is going to happen and break it down. You have to go with what's best as that moment and just move forward."
Still, Campbell admits that wasn't easy and remains a challenge. Prior to suffering the broken collarbone, Campbell had thrown for 1,170 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions in six games as the Raiders started off the season with a 3-2 record.
The promise that prompted the Redskins -- then still under coach Joe Gibbs -- to use a first-round pick to acquire Campbell finally appeared to be showing. Before joining the Raiders in 2011, Campbell had thrown for 74 touchdowns and 50 interceptions during an inconsistent career in Washington made even more difficult by working with multiple coaches learning different systems, not to mention inconsistency on the offensive line.
In Oakland, finally, things seemed to be clicking.
"You never know which road is going to lead you in your career," Campbell said. "It's tough to not be a starter, and I feel like I was in the prime of my career and going in the right direction, that I felt good about. Now I have to put a pause on that. It's a bit of a challenge, but at the same time, I (have to) adapt to it, accept it and keep moving forward."
Working with in a quarterback-friendly Bears offense featuring weapons such Brandon Marshall, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Matt Forte might ease the situation somewhat for Campbell. What the quarterback likes most about Chicago's offense is its versatility.
"It's an offense that we can do a lot of different things. It doesn't put us in one small category of things that we can do. It's an offense that you can spread it around if you want to. If you want to get in there and pound, pick up two or three yards, you can do that as well," Campbell said. "There's a lot of talent on this team. The sky's what you can do offensively."
As for Campbell, the same might still apply. He's currently signed to a one-year deal, and admits the new role puts the game in better perspective for him. Each repetition is even that more important as a backup, which forces Campbell to work to improve other facets of his game.
"Mentally, you have to learn as much as you can in the classroom because a lot of what you do is not going to be physical," Campbell said. "It's a little bit of a challenge to me because I have to approach everything differently. You just never know. It could be a good challenge because it forces you to focus on other parts of your game that you haven't had to do for a long time."