By Nate Ulrich
and Ryan Lewis Beacon Journal sports writers
BEREA: Starting quarterback Jason Campbell is confident he could play Sunday despite his bruised ribs if the Browns didn’t have a bye.
“If we had a game Sunday, I’d definitely go out there and play,” Campbell said.
Campbell practiced Tuesday even though he suffered the injury Sunday in a 24-18 win over the defending Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens (3-5). He fully expects to be ready when the Browns (4-5) play their next game Nov. 17 at the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals (6-3).
“Right now, just sore but getting a lot better,” Campbell said. “Just taking it one day at a time. We’re only two days removed from the game. So just trying to get it back to normal. But I’m pleased with the positive feedback I’m getting.”
“[They bye] came at a great time for our team. We’ve got a lot of guys that are kind of banged up. It’ll be very important to get these guys back and get ready to go down the home stretch.”
Campbell, 31, took it easy during the 20-minute portion of practice open to the media, throwing off to the side while backup Brandon Weeden threw to the receivers in one-on-one drills. But it’s great news for the Browns that Campbell doesn’t expect to miss a beat because he’s playing some of the best football of his career.
“I think I’m there,” said Campbell, who’s 1-1 as a starter this season and has completed 46-of-75 passes (61.3 percent) for 561 yards and five touchdowns without an interception, posting a passer rating of 106.6. “I was having a good year going back in 2011 [with the Oakland Raiders]. And back in 2008 [with the Washington Redskins], for the most part of that season when we had a lot of injuries, things were going really well. But I just feel like I’m in a different place as far as where my mindset is. I just need to just have strong faith and continue to just come out here each and every day just to work extremely hard, not try to put any pressure or stress about anything, just let it all hang out, just have fun.”
This is Campbell’s first shot as a full-time starter since 2011, when he went 3-2 with the Raiders before suffering a season-ending broken collarbone in Week 6 against the Browns. He started once last season for the Chicago Bears and was pummeled in a 32-7 loss to the eventual NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.
“Last year, we played the 49ers on Monday night, and I got hit 19, 20 times,” said Campbell, who signed a two-year, $3.75 million contract in March. “I was sacked nine, 10 times. There wasn’t really much that I could do in that situation, and it’s unfortunate. But having a chance here, the way our offensive line’s playing, having Norv Turner as the offensive coordinator and the way our team is playing, it helps a lot.”
Campbell credits Turner for helping him improve his footwork and pocket awareness. But the experience of Campbell, who’s in his ninth NFL season, has also been a positive factor.
“Early in my career, I put more pressure on myself to make every play,” Campbell said. “You don’t always have to make every play. Just let the guys around you make plays and stay within the game. You go the extra mile, but just believe in the guys around you more. I think that’s something that comes from experience and growth in the game.”
A little anger
Wide receiver Greg Little’s two 15-yard penalties in the first half of Sunday’s game — an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for tossing the helmet of Ravens safety James Ihedigbo and a taunting penalty for giving Ihedigbo a “come here” motion after a 15-yard catch — dampened an otherwise stellar night in which he hauled in a career-high seven receptions for 122 yards.
Browns inside linebacker and defensive captain D’Qwell Jackson said Little must keep his composure.
“You’ve got to be smarter,” Jackson said. “The second guy is always at fault. Got to be able to keep your cool. Baltimore’s an aggressive team and we play a violent sport, so those things are going to happen. Second guy always gets flagged and fined.”
Photos, drawn from screen shots of CBS’ telecast, appear to show Ihedigbo with his hands around Little’s neck area with Little on his back, though it’s unclear if he was actually being choked. Jackson said being choked is different than simply being shoved, but physical retaliation still isn’t the right motive.
“That’s a little different,” Jackson said. “You’ve got to defend yourself. You want to get their hands off you. Somehow get him legally within the lines. The way to get back at him is scoring touchdowns.”
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he didn’t consider Little’s personal fouls conduct detrimental to the team and won’t fine him.
Little practiced Tuesday despite dealing with a sprained right shoulder suffered Sunday. However, he declined to speak with reporters.
Chudzinski said the coaching staff wants tailback-turned-fullback Chris Ogbonnaya to receive more carries in a running back role moving forward.
“That’s something we’re taking a good look at this week, the running game in general, and getting Obie some carries,” Chudzinski said. “[It is something] we want to do.”
In nine games this season, Ogbonnaya has rushed for 101 yards on 19 carries (5.3 average) to go along with 28 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
“Anytime you have an opportunity to help the team, you want to take advantage of it,” Ogbonnaya said. “If that comes down to carrying the ball more, then so be it.”
Chudzinski also said he doesn’t believe the Browns need to acquire a fullback, even though the plan is to use Ogbonnaya more as a rusher.
“I think we’re OK as far as that goes,” he said.
Starting running back Willis McGahee, who turned 32 two weeks ago, has 100 carries for 262 yards (2.6 average) this season. The Browns are ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (81.6).
The Browns activated guard Jason Pinkston from the injured reserve/designated to return list and waived backup left tackle Rashad Butler, the team announced Tuesday.
Pinkston suffered a high-ankle sprain Aug. 15 in a preseason game against the Detroit Lions. He spent nine weeks on IR.
Pinkston tweeted that it was “bittersweet” to return but lose Butler, a “really good guy and veteran leader.”
In accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, all Browns players will receive a four-day break Thursday through Sunday during the team’s bye week. Coaches will work Thursday and then have the weekend off before everyone returns on Monday, Chudzinski said.
Jackson said he’ll be going to a Broadway show in New York with his girlfriend and then catching a train to Washington D.C., where he lives, to watch the Ravens play the Bengals on Sunday. He also said he’ll be rooting for the Ravens to beat the division-leading Bengals.
“I might make a call to [Ravens wide receiver Torrey] Smith, get him going, tell him I’ll be watching,” Jackson said.
Linebacker Eric Martin will be traveling to Chicago to support his girlfriend, Maritza Hayes, who players soccer for the University of Nebraska. The Cornhuskers recently won the Big Ten regular-season title and are searching for a tournament championship to go with it.
“Hopefully they win so I can have a good day, too,” Martin said. “If they don’t, my bye week’s going to be ruined.”
Day of rest
Ogbonnaya, Jackson, wide receiver Davone Bess, defensive end Ahtyba Rubin, left tackle Joe Thomas and defensive end Desmond Bryant didn’t practice Tuesday but worked out in the field house.
Outside linebacker Quentin Groves (ankle) also worked out in the field house. McGahee and tight end MarQueis Gray (hamstring) neither practiced nor worked out during the portion open to the media.
“We rested some of our more senior citizens and some guys that had a lot of reps in the game,” Chudzinski said.
Linebacker Darius Eubanks, who was cleared to practice after being evaluated for a head injury Sunday, said the injury was simply a bump above his left eye caused by his helmet.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.