The Cleveland Browns are changing again, and in that regard Jason Campbell already feels at home.
Campbell comes to the Browns with plenty of stamps on his NFL passport, eight seasons of experience — and absolutely no guarantee of anything when it comes to a role in his new stop. He operated the second-team offense last week as the Browns started their organized team activity practices, the first of four weeks of work that wrap up the offseason program.
The Browns have been non-committal when it comes to anything involving the game’s most important position. Brandon Weeden is the returning starter, and Brian Hoyer was added last week after the first week of OTA sessions was completed. It sure smells like a full-fledged quarterback competition is coming as all involved try to learn the offense being installed by new coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“We haven’t talked about (a competition),” Campbell said. “Right now, the coaches are working all of us out to get better. Whatever reps you have, you go in there and do the best that you can. You compete every day at a high level. It’s all a learning curve, so there’s not a whole lot to talk about. We’re all just trying to work.
“I just come out here to get better honestly. We’ve got a great offensive coordinator in Norv Turner, and head coach in coach Chud. You’ve got two offensive-minded guys like that, it’s really a goal for us to come out here…to learn this offense and do everything I can, whatever my role is, to help the team win.”
Cleveland marks the fourth NFL stop for Campbell, 31, who was a first-round pick of the Redskins in 2005. A career 61-percent passer with a 76-52 touchdown-to-interception ratio suggests that he hasn’t been terrible. He hasn’t been great, either, and he really hasn’t had a chance to build on the positive things he’s done. He didn’t bring all of his old playbooks along when he moved to Cleveland, probably because he didn’t have to.
Campbell had four offensive coordinators in his four years at Auburn, then had four offensive coordinators in his five years with the Redskins.
“Sometimes,” Campbell said, “I call a play from another life.”
He has a sense of humor about his past, but he also has a serious desire to write a positive personal chapter.
“Right now I’m trying to help everybody else get better and help myself get better,” Campbell said. “I don’t worry about the future. I’ve been through some different situations in my career. Now I’ve ended up in Cleveland, the team I broke my collarbone against two years ago.
“After the injury it was tough. To be honest it took a while to grasp. I feel I was playing really well and was at a crucial part in my career. To get hurt and no longer be starting, it took a little bit. I’ve rebounded now. I’m happy, excited and I’m here to help this team get better and at the same time improve my own growth. Whatever happens, happens. At the end of the day, it’s about winning.”
That injury ended his two-year stint with the Raiders, who traded for Campbell on draft day in 2010. He was a backup with the Bears last year, where he played in six games but saw significant action in just three. A Monday night loss at San Francisco was a disaster for Campbell and all involved; in the two other games, he wasn’t bad.
The Browns added Campbell in March, making him no promises. He saw this new start as a selling point.
“If you get caught up in (competing for the starting job) you can’t go out and focus and get better,” Campbell said. “Ultimately I do want to help, but also compete and give my best. I’m still at a point in my career where I still have a lot of things in me.
“We’ll just see how it goes. (Weeden) is a good guy. I’m happy for Brandon. I’m trying to help Brandon. Right now we’re a team and that’s how it’s going to be throughout the season. No matter what, I’m supporting whatever. Whatever that role is, I’ll do the best I can it because I just want to win, especially at this point of my career.”