December 21, 2014

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Campbell breaks silence on QB situation

Brian Dulik

The Gazette

BEREA — Jason Campbell entered the season as the Browns’ backup quarterback, but was passed over for the starting job when Brandon Weeden was injured.

Three weeks after being snubbed in favor of third-stringer Brian Hoyer, Campbell broke his silence on the subject Friday following practice.

“When I didn’t get to start against Minnesota, did it sting a little bit? Yeah, it stung a little bit,” the eight-year veteran said. “As a competitor, you’re disappointed. But then all of a sudden, you find out it’s not about you. It’s about the team, and they’re trying to find out what they have going forward.

“I’ve been in this game long enough to understand there comes a time when you have to shift roles.”

Campbell will be back in his former role Sunday — backing up Weeden — as Cleveland hosts the Detroit Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium.

It will be Weeden’s third start of the season, but his first since Sept. 15 at Baltimore. The Browns went 3-0 with Hoyer in the lineup before he suffered a major knee injury on Oct. 3 against Buffalo.

Campbell absorbed an additional indignity in the Bills game by being made inactive for the first time this season by coach Rob Chudzinski.

“It’s tough for any competitor, but I understand, and this is not my first time going through adversity,” said Campbell, who owns six seasons of starting experience with the Redskins and Raiders. “If I was (pouting), then I’d be doing the team a disjustice.

“Helping these younger guys is part of my role. I want them to know that whatever happens, you’ve got to try and make the best of it. Understand that at the end of the day, you’ve got to make it feel like it’s the same game you grew up loving as a kid.”

Campbell’s lone regular season action came against the Ravens after Weeden exited with a sprained right thumb. He completed 1-of-4 passes for six yards in a 14-6 loss, but looked even shakier than those fourth-quarter numbers.

That performance prompted Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner to go with the unproven Hoyer seven days later against the Vikings. Campbell calmly made it clear that he did not agree with their thought process.

“Whether a person agrees with a decision or doesn’t agree with a decision, the decision is made and you move forward and you don’t hang onto it,” said Campbell, who has 14,688 passing yards in 78 NFL games. “That’s helped me in the past, it’s helped me now, and I think it’s helped Brandon over the last week after he heard all the boos for the first time (at home against Buffalo).

“You knew it was going to be tough for him because Brian is from Cleveland and everyone is rooting for him, but I tried to tell Brandon, ‘Hey, just control the things you can control and don’t let it be stressful.’ That’s all any of us can do because playing quarterback is stressful enough in this league.”

Injury update

Browns defensive end Billy Winn (quadriceps) has been declared out for the Lions game, while outside linebackers Quentin Groves (left high ankle sprain) and Jabaal Sheard (left knee sprain) are questionable.Groves, who has been sidelined since Sept. 15 at Baltimore, said he will be a game-time decision against Detroit.“I feel pretty good and I have felt pretty good this week, but at the same time, it’s not Sunday,” Groves explained. “We’ll see if I’m sore tomorrow morning when I get out of bed, then make a final decision when we get to the stadium on Sunday morning.”

Sheard and Groves have been limited in practice all week, but spent extra time going over the game plan with defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

If both can play, Cleveland will resume its four-man rotation on the outside with Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo, Sheard and Groves. Rookies Paul Hazel and Eric Martin have been filling in for the injured duo.

“Not to disrespect Hazel and Martin because they’ve been doing a good job, but coaches want their best guys on the field,” Groves said. “I’ve been in (Horton’s) system for two years and Jabaal is a starter, so it will help the team if we get back in there.”

Sheard was hurt in the third quarter at Minnesota on Sept. 22, which ended his 35-game playing streak one week later. The third-year pro is wearing a knee brace and also said his status will be determined just before game time.

“I’d like to pick up right I left off,” Sheard said. “That’s why I’m rushing to get back fast.”

Fullback Chris Ogbonnaya (concussion), defensive end Desmond Bryant (illness), tackle Joe Thomas (elbow) and defensive end John Hughes (knee) are all probable.

“I feel fine, healthy, and ready to get back to what I’m doing,” said Ogbonnaya, who was injured when he fell awkwardly to the grass against the Bills. “I’m just lucky the symptoms went away quickly, and the doctors took good care of me.” …

Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson (broken left forearm), tight end Tony Scheffler (concussion) and running back Theo Riddick (concussion) are out, while tackle Jason Fox (knee) is doubtful.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) was limited in practice and is questionable. “Megatron” did not play last week in Detroit’s 22-9 loss at Green Bay.

Listed as probable are safety Louis Delmas (knee), cornerback Chris Houston (hamstring), linebacker Ashlee Palmer (ankle) and safety Glover Quin (ankle).

Under the knife

Chudzinski revealed that Hoyer will undergo season-ending reconstructive surgery on his right knee on Oct. 18.Though the North Olmsted native suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Buffalo, he remains on Cleveland’s 53-man active roster. Weeden and Campbell are the only healthy quarterbacks on the team.“There isn’t a necessity to be in a hurry, so we’re still looking at the options that are out there,” Chudzinski said, adding that Hoyer could be medically cleared in time for the spring OTA sessions.

l Until the Browns add a signalcaller, tight end MarQueis Gray will serve as their third quarterback. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder played the position at the University of Minnesota, as well as wide receiver and running back.

“The more you can do, the longer you can stay in the NFL,” said Gray, an undrafted rookie. “The Browns signed me as a tight end, but I’ve been doing everything since I got here. I’ve lined up at fullback, wide receiver, tight end, quarterback, played special teams, you name it.

“But that is a very big positive, knowing the coaches are fine with me being No. 3 for now.”

During his four-year career with the Golden Gophers, Gray amassed 2,053 passing yards, rushed for 1,731 more and caught 60 passes for 766 yards. He scored 32 total touchdowns.

A fine mess

Browns left guard John Greco was fined $7,875 by the NFL for committing a violent facemask penalty against Buffalo.Cleveland safety Tashaun Gipson was not docked any pay for hitting Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel on the right knee — spraining his lateral collateral ligament — and celebrating over his prone body.Two Buffalo players were also fined, but linebacker Kiko Alonzo was not for his helmet-to-helmet blow on Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer on the play that he was injured on.

Bills safety Aaron Williams lost $21,000 for striking Cleveland wide receiver Davone Bess on the helmet, while running back Fred Jackson was fined $7,875 for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Extra points

Tom McCarthy and Heath Evans will call the Browns/Lions game on Fox (WJW-TV 8 locally), which is only airing the game in Ohio, Michigan, and South Bend, Ind. It is the network’s lowest profile game in Week 6.l Detroit and Cleveland have only played three times since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999. The Lions hold a 2-1 lead in the new era series, making them 14-4 all-time against Cleveland.l The Browns’ 37-24 win over the Bills on “Thursday Night Football” earned a 30.3 rating and 47 share in Greater Cleveland, including viewership on NFL Network and WKYC-TV 3. The same game drew a 29.4 rating and 46 share in Buffalo.

l Offshore bookmaker Bovada has dropped the Browns’ odds of winning the AFC title to 33:1, making them the eighth-most likely team to reach the Super Bowl from the conference.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.