BEREA--In the first nine games, the Browns have experienced anything but serenity.
The Browns have had the roller coaster of trading lead running back Trent Richardson, losing quarterback Brandon Weeden to injury and then Brian Hoyer to injury. Most recently, the benching of Weeden and the arrival of Jason Campbell to the quarterback position.
Campbell was the third quarterback to start for the Browns in the first half of the season. Campbell's demeanor and calmness has brought a soothing effect to the Browns.
“Jason has played a lot more than any of our guys here," Rob Chudzinski said. "You see it during the week, him knowing what to expect in different situations and the questions he asks. He’s been through it and he knows it and when he gets out on the field, he’s been there before. I think that’s calmness. I think that’s a sense of confidence that our guys have, and I have in him. He has it himself, that he’s done it before and I think that really helped us.”
The players have noticed, as well.
"I like the way Jason is calm under pressure," Joe Thomas said. "He's got a calm, steady presence that he brings to the huddle. He doesn't get everyone too tense or too uptight, which is important when there's a big play."
Alex Mack said that Campbell's even keel approach is effective, but can be deceiving.
"He's not too high and he's not too low," Mack said. "He's the same every time. He's not nonchalant, but he has done a good job assuming the role dealt to him."
Campbell did not throw a fit or complain when he was bypassed for the starting position when Weeden was injured and Hoyer vaulted over him to start. Then, Weeden leap-frogged him as the backup with the Bills. He said he was instilled by his parents to keep an even keel. He also credits his faith.
"I have a strong faith in God and the way I was raised," he said. "My parents told me to keep an even keel. I don't want to get too high or too low. Early in my career, I put too much pressure on myself to try to make every play. Now, I've learned and experienced enough to believe in the guys on the field."
Campbell has a quiet demeanor about him, but he knows that the quarterback position sets the tone for the whole team.
"I have more emotions on the field," he said. "You always want to win and be precise in what you do," he said. "It's part of the quarterback position on the field is to uplift the guys around you, whether it's going good or going rough. You have to keep guys into it and a lot of times the team feeds off the quarterback's energy."
Campbell started just one game for the Bears last season when Jay Cutler was injured, but said he didn't have much of an opportunity to show what he could do in that start. He was 32-of-51 for 265 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in six games for the Bears in 2012.
"Last year, I played the 49ers on Monday Night and I got hit 19 or 20 times," he said. "There wasn't much I could do in that situation. Having a chance here, the way our offensive line is playing and having Norv Turner as offensive coordinator, it helps the way our team is playing. Last year, it wasn't our night at all. I got hit virtually every pay. i don't think it had anything with me as a player, because that was my only start."
Campbell has posted back-to-back 100 plus quarterback ratings in his two starts. On the season, he's thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions. His rating is 106.6. He was asked if he's playing the best football of his career.
"I think I'm getting there," he said. "I had a good year in 2011 (with Raiders until season-ending injury) and back in 2008 (with the Redskins) until we had a lot of injuries (as a team)," he said. "I just feel that I'm in a different place where the mindset is. I have a strong faith and I don't want to feel all the pressure (of doing it myself). I just want to (have fun) and let it all hang out."
Campbell said he's learned from being in the NFL for nine years and feels the best is yet to come for the Browns offense.
"Being around the league for a while, and with my experience, we have a young talented group of guys," he said. "I think each each week is different and we have different guys who are making plays.
"We're a young group and Norv said we should be better in November and December because we've been in the system longer," he said. "The longer I can be working with these guys, the better the chemistry we'll have.We just have to keep making strides."
Little, Campbell Practice: TE MarQueis Gray (hamstring) and LB Quentin Groves (ankle) did not practice. QB Jason Campbell (ribs), WR Greg Little (shoulder), LB Darius Eubanks (head) and LB Eric Martin (knee) practiced.
"Jason did a little bit, but he's fine," Chudzinski said. "The same with Greg."
Campbell is happy the bye is this week to allow him to rest his ribs.
"Right now, I'm a little sore, but am pleased with the positive feedback I've received," Campbell said.
"The bye comes at a great time for our team," he said. "It will allow our guys to get ready to go to Cincinnati."
Campbell said that he could play if the Browns had a game this Sunday.
Day of Rest: RB Willis McGahee and WR Davone Bess were given scheduled days off from practice.
"Overall, from a practice standpoint, we rested a number of guys being a couple days out from a game," he said. "It gave a chance for the younger (to get reps). We rested some of our more senior citizens."
Bye Schedule: Chudzinski said the Browns will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before taking Thursday through Sunday off. The Browns will return to practice on Monday.
"I want our guys to come back stronger and ready to go," Chudzinski said. "We have goals and my expectations are that I want us to be improving every week and get better. I expect that and the team has shown that.
"We're excited about getting better during course of bye week."
Fallout from Miami: In light of the situation going on with the Dolphins bullying and hazing situation, Chudzinski was asked if he stays on top of what the players in the Browns locker room are doing.
"As far as there situation goes, I'm not going to comment on the Dolphins," he said. "As far as our standpoint and my standpoint, I feel good about our locker room."
OL Richie Incognito was suspended from the Dolphins indefinitely for bullying and hazing fellow OL and rookie Jonathan Martin. The situation came to light when Martin left the team last week.
"It's unfortunate what's going on down there," Campbell said.
OL Joe Thomas said he's never seen anything close to what's going on there in the Browns locker room and has never had to step in and handle it.
"I've never seen anything that's needed addressing."
RB Chris Ogbonnaya said that the leadership in the Browns locker room is good.
"(Captains) Joe (Thomas) and D'Qwell (Jackson) do a good job in our locker room," he said.
WR Davone Bess, who played for the Dolphins up until last season didn't want to get involved.
"I don't have any opinion on that," he said. "I try to stay in my lane and take care of my own business."
Bess did say that it brings attention to an important topic.
"I think it's important we talk about (bullying and hazing)," he said. "It's important for our youth and the kids, for us, to set an example on this topic."