NFL Nation: Caleb Campbell
I guess it's possible that Smith's thumb surgery revealed a more significant injury than originally thought. But it's more likely that the Lions decided against carrying another longer-term injury on their 53-man roster. Already, quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder) and place-kicker Jason Hanson (knee) are in that category.
Smith had been working as rookie Jahvid Best's backup, but the drop-off from Smith to Maurice Morris and Aaron Brown probably isn't significant enough to continue carrying him on the roster. Campbell will give the Lions a fresh body on special teams and give them a chance to evaluate him in a regular-season environment over the last two months of the season.
Campbell had planned to use the U.S. Army's alternative service option to begin playing immediately after the draft. Ultimately, however, the Army required him to serve two years before joining the team.
Originally drafted as a safety, Campbell now weighs 237 pounds and will work as a linebacker for the Lions. He signed his contract this week.
I think some Lions fans are getting ahead of themselves in believing Campbell will challenge for the position left open by the trade of Ernie Sims, but I do think he'll have a strong chance to make the team as a special-teams player.
Here's what Campbell told the Lions' website about the past two years:
It was really tough for me, initially. But I knew I had to carry on with my orders. I allowed that pain I was feeling of having your dream at your fingertips and then having it taken away from you, I guess you can say I embraced it, and allowed it to make me a better person.
Over the last two years I've definitely matured as a person and I think that pain and that hard time built character. Over the past two years it's been a blessing still and I've matured in a lot of ways off the field.
Caleb Campbell sounded a bit weary Wednesday evening as he packed his bags in a Detroit-area hotel room. But Campbell had made up his mind to react positively to news that the U.S. Army has called him into traditional active duty, rescinding an alternative service option that would have allowed him to be the first Army player to move directly to the NFL after leaving school.
"I was at West Point last week and they told me everything was good to go," Campbell said. "So this news was definitely a surprise. But I know that when I went to the academy, my goal and plan was to be an officer in the United States Army, and that's what I'm going to be. I can't be disappointed in that."
Campbell, a second lieutenant, will serve as an assistant football coach at Army during the college season. He plans to stay in shape and will pursue an NFL job when he becomes eligible in May 2010. But that will come after missing two seasons of the game.
In the interest of full disclosure, Campbell had agreed to keep a diary for ESPN.com during training camp and completed his first entry earlier this week. In it, he wrote that he was looking forward to being the "poster child" for the alternative service option and added: "I feel like I'm setting the pathway for other players to follow."
Wednesday's news scuttled that plan and could ultimately mean the end of his football career. But, Campbell said: "My original plan was to be an officer and that's what I'm going to be. I'm really excited to be a soldier and to lead our troops."
For those who are wondering, the Lions will get no compensation for using a seventh-round pick to draft Campbell. They will retain his rights until the 2009 draft.
What? Could one whole day have passed without an update in the Brett Favre saga? It appears as though both sides rested Sunday, at least publicly, in anticipation of a key week for the Green Bay Packers. So we'll take our cue and go Favre-less ourselves -- for now -- in this edition of Black and Blue all over.
- It's not clear if Chicago Bears wide receiver Mark Bradley will be ready for the start of training camp after offseason surgery on his right knee. With the departures of Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad, Bradley has an opportunity to finally establish himself as a front-line receiver. But he has to get on the field. And stay there.
- Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times endorses Kyle Orton for the Bears' starting quarterback job based on one qualification: He isn't Rex Grossman. "I have slightly more faith that he'll make fewer mistakes than Rex Grossman," Mariotti writes.
- Rookie safety Caleb Campbell (Army) is expected to report to Detroit Lions camp on Wednesday, according to the Detroit News. Campbell's status has been in some doubt as the U.S. military reviews the "alterative service option" that will allow him to defer and modify his post-graduate service obligation.
- Among the issues that have been swept under the (public) rug recently is the Green Bay Packers' concerns at defensive line, according the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The Packers traded Corey Williams and then watched Justin Harrell tweak his back and Johnny Jolly get arrested this month for drug possession in Houston. Jolly could eventually face NFL discipline.
- The Packers are hoping to identify a clear-cut No. 2 running back behind Ryan Grant, assuming Grant signs a contract and reports to camp on time. Brandon Jackson will get the first crack, reports the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress will keep in mind the NFL's new 80-man roster limit while monitoring his players' workload in training camp. "You don't need to be a slavedriver," Childress told the Star Tribune.
Today's best in the NFC North...
- Interesting that Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy felt compelled to reaffirm his support in GM Ted Thompson, whose (in)actions have been scrutinized publicly as quarterback Brett Favre considers coming out of retirement. "I really think Ted is handling this situation very well," Murphy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's very delicate and he's handled it well, very professionally." While Thompson visited Favre two years ago to sell him on continuing his career, Murphy said, this year he "wanted Brett to be able to make the decision himself."
- This Packers shareholder -- who also works for the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana -- wants no part of Favre coming back in 2008. "Don't do it!" he writes. "Even if Favre wants to unfairly force the Packers' hand, the team has the right to tell him it can't be in Green Bay." As for the possibility of Favre being released and signing with an NFC North team, Steven T. Gorches writes: "We, as owners, will not let that happen."
- Caleb Campbell, a rookie safety from Army, is hoping to make the Lions roster this summer and play under a special exemption that allows him to fulfill his military commitment as a recruiter in the Detroit area. The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday that the Army is reviewing the policy that led to Campbell's exemption. As of earlier this week, our information was that Campbell at least would be allowed to attend training camp.
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