A lot of very strange twists have brought Jason Campbell full circle.
Just before the trade deadline in 2011, Campbell dislocated his collarbone with his Raiders in position to make the playoffs. That injury during a game against the Browns started a cascade of changes that are still playing out.
Raiders coach Hue Jackson lobbied for Oakland to get the disgruntled Carson Palmer from Cincinnati in a trade, even if it came at a steep cost. The Raiders gave up a first-round and a second-round pick, then failed to make the playoffs. Jackson was fired.
The Bengals used their picks to take cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in 2012 and running back Giovani Bernard this year. They also hired Jackson as an assistant coach after he was fired by the Raiders.
Campbell? He moved on to the Browns (5-6), who are surprisingly still in contention in the AFC North in mid-November. He’ll start today against the Bengals (6-4) at Paul Brown Stadium, which is Palmer’s old place.
Nobody saw that coming.
“Yeah, it’s been very strange,” Campbell said. “As I always tell the guys, you can never predict anything when you’re playing this game.
“Things that happened two years ago when I was out in Oakland and now to see yourself playing for the team you got hurt against, and now playing against the team that made the trade — it’s like a whirlwind.”
Cleveland’s season has been a whirlwind since it traded running back Trent Richardson after only two games, and there was more quarterback drama.
Yet here they are, with a chance to stamp themselves as a playoff contender with a win over the division leaders.
The Bengals are feeling a little pressure themselves after two straight overtime losses.
“Those overtime games are tough,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “They’re tough on the body, tough on everybody involved. When you have all those plays week in and week out, it definitely carries over to the next week.
“Yeah, I think guys are excited to have an opportunity to kind of right the ship and go out and play the way we want to play.”
BALTIMORE (4-5) AT CHICAGO (5-4): An overtime win to break a three-game slide was encouraging for the Ravens, but they aren’t performing anything like last season’s champions. They can’t get the run game in gear and Joe Flacco has been sacked 30 times.
Banged-up Chicago might not have the horses to put that kind of pressure on Flacco, and it also is using second-string quarterback Josh McCown for the injured Jay Cutler. But McCown has played well this year, and he has weapons in WRs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and RB Matt Forte.