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Published: Tuesday, 12/24/2013

NFL

Browns’ Campbell staying optimistic

Win over Steelers is Christmas wish

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Jason Campbell has had a disappointing season for the Browns. He’s 1-6 as the starter. Jason Campbell has had a disappointing season for the Browns. He’s 1-6 as the starter.
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BEREA, Ohio — There won't be any playoffs stuffed in stockings again in Cleveland this year, but Jason Campbell has decided to make the most of his final start in what has been another bitter season for the beleaguered Browns.

"It's Christmas time, time to be jolly, not sullen," Campbell said Tuesday. "It's time to smile and not frown. We don't need any Grinches. We need to go out, have fun, cut it loose, and fix the things we need to fix in the offseason and come back next year."

Campbell's positive approach and attitude are in stark contrast to his postgame comments following Sunday's 24-13 loss to the New York Jets. Campbell played poorly as the Browns (4-11) lost their sixth straight and ninth in 10 overall, a skid that has given them six consecutive seasons with at least 11 losses. Campbell admitted to "pressing" during the game and that his desire to make big plays had an adverse effect, resulting in costly mistakes.

Campbell said he was still "pretty down" on Monday, but after speaking with his father, Larry, he decided it was time to lighten up.

"He's the guy I go to to give me that little extra boost that I need," Campbell said. "He asked me what's my Christmas gift, I told him I really don't want a Christmas gift, just to get a 'W.' Just to end the season the right way, that would be the only Christmas gift I'd really appreciate."

The Browns haven't won since Nov. 3, when a 24-18 victory over Baltimore put them at 4-5 and actually triggered postseason talk that now not only seems presumptive but preposterous.

Campbell, who began the season backing up Brandon Weeden and then got passed by Brian Hoyer on the depth chart, had expected so much more. The 31-year-old veteran signed as a free agent in March because he thought he'd have a chance to revive his career, which seemed on the rise before a season-ending injury for Oakland in 2011.

He was playing the best of his career then only to be sabotaged by injury.

Campbell has shown flashes of being a dependable starter this season, but he was slowed by a rib injury and concussion. He's gone 1-6.

On Dec. 8, he passed for a career-high 391 yards in a heartbreaking loss at New England, but he followed it with uneven outings against Chicago and New York, showings that may have affected his future in Cleveland.

Campbell knew this could be his final shot, and he may have blown it.

"They're hard to come by," he said. "I was talking to my dad last night. He said I need to sound a little bit more enthused. I told him it kind of hurts when you look at the opportunity that's been there. Some of the games I've played up to my ability, some games I've had a couple mistakes. It's been tough in that aspect because I wanted to take advantage of the full opportunity presented."

Campbell is his own toughest critic, but he said the desire to win drives him.

"I take things a little bit too hard at times," he said. "A lot of it is from the pressure of trying to be successful and just reaching the expectations you have for yourself. I set high expectations when I got a chance to play and sometimes you lived up to it and sometimes you didn't. Overall, I'm happy in some things and disappointed in a lot of things."

He's under contract through 2014 at $2.25 million, but Campbell knows this Sunday could be his last with the Browns.

"That's up to the GM and the coaching staff," he said. "Whatever it is, I just want to finish on a high note and go into the offseason feeling good, or at least get a win and not feeling bitter or bad."

NOTES: Safety T.J. Ward, eligible for free agency, said he wants to re-sign with the Browns. "I'm a person that wants to finish things, and I want to finish things on a winning note," he said. "I want to play in the playoffs here, I want to bring this city a championship. I've been doing everything in my power to help this team win, so I definitely want to see that through." ... CB Joe Haden (hip), NT Phil Taylor (concussion), TE Jordan Cameron (concussion), LB Paul Kruger (flu), John Hughes (knee), Jason Pinkston (concussion), and G Shawn Lauvao (unspecified) all missed practice.



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