CHICAGO – If Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has to miss any prolonged period of time after suffering a concussion, the offense will have an experienced hand at the helm this time.
Jason Campbell, an eighth-year NFL veteran with 70 career starts, saw his first extended action as Bears quarterback in their 13-6 loss Sunday night to the Houston Texans at Soldier Field.
Campbell was unable to rally the Bears for a victory against the Texans, at 8-1 the AFC’s best team, but he completed 11-of-19 passes for 94 yards. He played the entire second half and most of his passes were of the short, dump-off variety.
If Campbell has to start for Cutler next Monday at San Francisco, at least he will have more time to prepare with the first-team offense in practices.
The Bears’ colossal late-season collapse a year ago provided the impetus for the Bears to find an experienced backup quarterback in the offseason. Campbell started last season at Oakland, but suffered a broken collarbone and was placed on injured reserve. When the Raiders traded for Carson Palmer, Campbell no longer was part of their future.
Campbell signed with Bears for a one-year, $3.5 million deal in March. Last season when Cutler went out with a broken thumb. Backup Caleb Hanie, who had limited NFL action, was winless in his five starts, which ended the Bears’ hopes to make the playoffs.
Now, if the Bears need Campbell to step in next week at San Francisco, and beyond, they will have an experienced player with a decent 82.8 passer rating.
Campbell’s best moment Sunday came on a 45-yard strike to wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Texans’ 10-yard line in the third quarter. They wound up settling for Robbie Gould’s 24-yard field goal that cut Houston’s lead to 10-6.
Campbell needed a little more help than he got from his receivers. He threw a deep and catchable pass over the middle to tight end Kellen Davis with 3:53 remaining, but Davis could not haul it in. On the Bears’ final possession, from their 40 on fourth-and-8, he threw over the middle to running back Matt Forte, who was covered.
Forte hoped to get a pass interference call, but no flag was thrown and the Texans killed the remaining time on the clock.
Campbell was taken at 25th overall by Washington in the 2005 NFL Draft. His best season was in 2009 when he completed 64.5 passes for 3,618 yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.