BEREA--There has been a sense of optimism surrounding the Browns this week despite dropping a 23-17 game to the Chiefs last week. A lot of that has to do with the play of Jason Campbell.
Having been passed over when Brandon Weeden was injured to start the next game and passed over when Brian Hoyer was injured in the Bills game, it seemed the coaching staff didn't have a lot of confidence in Campbell.
However, Campbell responded in a hostile environment in Kansas City against the NFL's top defense with a 22-of-36 for 293 yard performance with two touchdowns. HIs 105.4 rating was the best from a Browns quarterback this season. Campbell played efficiently and ran the offense without turning the ball over. He also was sacked just once.
Campbell said the Browns are hoping to build on the positives from last week.
"I think our emphasis is to play four full quarters," Campbell said. "We haven't done that just yet There's been games we've played a good half, or a good quarter then skip a quarter and then a good quarter. Our goal is to play put together four quarters of football and be consistent in what we're doing and that way we can strive and move forward as an offense and as a team."
Campbell feels the Browns can improve from last week's performance and that includes himself.
"Every week is an opportunity for growth," Campbell said. "Just watching the film from last week you just can't get a couple of plays out of your head that you wish you had back.
"I have to do what I need to do to help my team win."
Campbell's job is to try and stop the three game losing streak and enter the bye week with a renewed sense of optimism.
"You want to go into the bye week feeling good about coming back (after the bye week) and getting our own streak going," Campbell said. "We need to end (the losing streak). This is a very important game for us. We have three tough losses in a row. Coming into this week, this is big, it's a home game, a division game, which makes it even bigger."
Campbell entered the first game with the Ravens after Weeden sprained his thumb. He was in on just one series and was one-of-4 for 6 yards. He said he never had a chance to get into a rhythm.
"I couldn't get a feel," he said. "My mind was moving faster than my bones, at that point."
Campbell knows the Ravens are one of the best defenses in the NFL, as well and knows the challenge this week. He feels his experience will help him prepare for the next game.
"They're all tough," Campbell said. "When you look at the schedule it seems we're going up against top five defenses every week. From that standpoint, you have to stay focused on the details of the game. It's a lot of hard studying of film and what we're trying to do and try to put a lot in a short window. Just using my experience, gives me an opportunity to use that."
Campbell doesn't see a drop off on the reigning Super Bowl champions defense from last year.
"They're still a good defense," he said. "They have (Terrell) Suggs and they added a pass rusher in (Elvis) Dumervil. Those two guys coming off the edge are two big-time players. They're still the defending Super Bowl champs and they're coming in here with the mindset of a must win as well. It kinds of puts a playoff atmosphere-type feel to it. They still have play makers and were going to get their best shot ."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh respects Campbell.
"Jason did a nice job (last week)," Harbaugh said. "We've played against him in the past. He's been around the league for awhile. He does a nice job and he made all the throws and can move around in the pocket and make plays."
The Ravens are just 3-4 coming off a bye and having lost two in a row to the Packers and the Steelers prior to the off week. They know the importance of this game.
"This is the point of the season where winning is important for both teams," Suggs said "It's November football and that's what's expected."
Campbell knows the Browns can stay relevant this season, but they need to start with a with this week.
"It's a division game at home," he said. "You have to defend your own turf. With them being in our division, it makes it an even more important game, plus we want to stay in the hunt, stay in the fight. When it comes to late November and December, those are teams that begin to separate themselves. We want to have an opportunity to be in the hunt late in the season. It's a big part right now, we're sitting at 3-5. We're in a situation where we need to (win)."
He knows to earn respect in the AFC North the Browns have to win the division games. The Browns have lost 11 straight games to the Ravens.
"You have to first earn respect winning games," he said. "That's what we have to do. We can't look at our schedule, just take it one game at a time. That's our approach and how we have to play together as a team from here on out. It gives us an opportunity. The fight is always there."
Hoyer Driven to Return: QB Brian Hoyer was in the locker room and spoke to reporters for a few moments about his play and his hopes for a rapid return.
"I hope that I was able to bring a spark and get this team going and I think that was accomplished. For me, that was the hardest part.
"Things were going really well and it just gets taken right out underneath you," Hoyer said on crutches with his right knee in a wrap. "So, I'm looking forward to getting back, whenever that might be and that's what drives me when I come in (to rehab)."
Hoyer said that he is hoping to return for OTA's and minicamp next spring.
"Generally, it takes six to eight months," he said. "For me, I'm just trying to get better every day. Hopefully, there will be no set backs."
Hoyer said that he is looking to returning to the field as the Browns quarterback. He hopes he showed enough in the time he played to keep his position.
"I can control my rehab and take care of what I can control," he said. "The silver lining is there was no other damage (to the knee), which can accelerate the rehab."
Hoyer was asked if he expects to be at 100 percent for the start of training camp in late July.
"I don't know about 100 percent, but I'm shooting for it," he said. "Hopefully, so."
Hoyer had his surgery on October 18th, the same week he celebrated his 28th birthday and his wife, Lauren, gave birth to his second child, a daughter Cameron.He's been already working with the trainers on his range of motion and stretching exercises.
Hoyer reflected on his brief time leading the Browns. He led the Browns to their first two wins of the season and started and was injured in the third win over the Bills.
"It's the most disappointing thing that's every happened to me," he said. "But I think for my mindset has always been to only worry about what you can control."
Hoyer was 57-of-96 for 615 yards (59.4 pct) with five touchdowns and three interceptions. HIs rating was 82.6. Jason Campbell's rating is 97.8, while Brandon Weeden's is 66.5.
Hoyer brought hope to the fan base, the team and the city rallied around him. He admitted that made it especially tough after finally getting his chance to start and playing for his hometown team.
"It was exciting," he said. "Thats what makes (the injury) so disappointing."
Focus on this one game. We've been one of the worst first down offenses in the league,up until this point." harbaugh said. won 11 times in a row.
New Guys: WR Armanti Edwards was signed to replace WR Travis Benjamin as a receiver, as well as a return man on punts and kickoffs. Edwards was with Chudzinski while he was coaching with the Panthers.
"He's a guy I have familiarity with the system he's also a returner been a punt returner and kick returner and with losing Travis (Benjamin), we needed that."
Chudzinski said he would be in the mix as early as this weekend on return duties.
"Armanti is a bright guy who made the conversion from quarterback to receiver," he said. "He has good skills and can catch and run. Sometimes, a new start can help guys."
Edwards is anxious for the moment.
"I'm looking for a fresh start, a new beginning," he said. "I will do what they need me too. I am ready."
Edwards is known for being the quarterback at Appalachian State when they upset Michigan 34-32 in 2007.
"I've heard about that a lot since I've been here."
His team won two National Championships in college.
The Browns also signed OL Reid Fragel, who played at Ohio State. Fragel was drafted by the Bengals in the seventh-round and was on the Bengals practice squad.
"Reid's a guy our scouts had identified and had kept an eye on him."
Edwards is wearing No. 10, while Fragel is wearing No. 78.
Pinkston's Return: The Browns have to make a decision on OL Jason Pinkston, who began practicing last week. The general thought is he will be activated, but most likely after the bye week.
"We can do (activate him) through next week," Chudzinski said. "We'll keep him where he's at for one more week and we'll make that determination next week."
Groves, Winn Return: It is believed that DL Billy Winn (quad) will be ready to play against the Ravens. The Browns are also hoping that LB Quentin Groves will be ready. Both practiced on Wednesday.
"Groves will practice today and see how he responds (this week)," Chudzinski said.
Shout Out to Grandpa Joe: Ravens' coach John Harbaugh used his conference call time with the Cleveland media to reminisce about working at his grandfather's gas station and nursery as a young boy. He said his grandfather, Joe Cipiti had a gas station in Richmond Heights and a nursery in East Cleveland.
"My mom went to Shaw High School," he said. "Grandpa Joe had a gas station, then ran Cipiti Nursery.
"I want to give a shout out to Grandpa Joe," he said. "He's 97. He's a great man."
Harbaugh said his grandfather still works at the nursery, but it's run by his Uncle Bob.
Harbaugh put in a plug for the nursery with a laugh.
"Plenty of good deals there."
Harbaugh said he and his brother, 49er's coach Jim, worked in the summer at the nursery and he recalls Jim running over a bunch of sapling trees with the lawn mower.
"They didn't let him on the mower again."