CLEVELAND - All signs indicate that Browns quarterback Jason Campbell is excited about another starting opportunity.
Why that is, no one knows for sure. Campbell was included in the succession of injuries to hit the quarterback position for the Browns in recent weeks, having missed last Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars while recovering from a concussion.
Campbell went through the NFL's concussion protocol and was cleared for practice Thursday. He practiced again Friday and has been named the starter for Sunday's game in New England.
Being thrown back in against the 9-3 Patriots might be the football equivalent of sending a lamb to slaughter. Campbell views it as an option better than watching his teammates play.
"It's good being back with the guys," said Campbell, who revealed that he has suffered two concussions in his NFL career. "You sit at home so long you feel like you're missing something or being punished. It's like I've been suspended from school, basically.
"I'm glad to be back out here to finish the season out and put together four great games and play the best we can. That's the only thing we can control. Let's see what happens."
The news wasn't as promising for quarterback Brandon Weeden, who suffered a concussion against the Jaguars. He was cleared to participate in team activities earlier in the week but has yet to be cleared for practice. He won't be active Sunday against the Patriots.
The indecision earlier this week meant plenty of practice time for recent additions Alex Tanney and Caleb Hanie. Coach Rob Chudzinski said prior to practice Wednesday that he might have to wait until game time to make a call on the starter if Campbell and Weeden weren't able to play.
Campbell was hurt when hit high on a blitz by Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay. Campbell has no hard feelings toward Gay, who appeared to strike Campbell across the upper chest. The collision drove the left side of Campbell's helmet into the side of his face.
"I watched the film and I also saw the TV copy," Campbell said. "He was coming in trying to hit me. When I saw him at the last minute I kind of ducked down a little bit and that's when he kind of caught me across the face.
"I don't think it was a dirty hit. I don't think he was trying to do it. I think it was just right in the middle of the action of the play."
By all accounts Campbell has been sharp in practices. That has to be somewhat reassuring to Chudzinski, who had been facing the prospect of starting a quarterback who has never played in a NFL game (Tanney) or one that has 10 game appearances (no starts) since 2008 (Hanie).
"All along the way I had no doubts that Jason wanted to get back as soon as possible," Chudzinski said. "He's very highly respected with the team. He cares about the guys on the team, and I know he wants to do whatever he can to help and was able to get back and have a real productive week."
Campbell was awarded the starting job six weeks ago in preparation for the Kansas City Chiefs. He played well against the Chiefs and a week later was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his play in a win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Campbell struggled in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals before suffering the injury a week later.
"Jason really has been a big part of a number of the games," Chudzinski said. "His leadership is critical with a group of young guys that he's playing with."
That might not be of much help against the Patriots.