LAKE FOREST – Jason Campbell has enjoyed a front-row seat to the watch the first-place Bears for most of the season.
Now, Campbell is about to get in on the action.
The Bears announced Friday that Campbell will start at quarterback Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers. Campbell will replace Jay Cutler, who continues to recover from a concussion that he sustained five days ago against Houston.
Although Campbell has not started for the Bears, he has plenty of experience leading NFL offenses. The eight-year veteran has started 70 career games with the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders, posting a 31-39 record in those starts.
Campbell said a full week of practice with the Bears’ starters should help him improve from an up-and-down performance against the Texans, during which he completed 11 of 19 passes for 94 yards. He acknowledged another tough test against the 49ers’ defense, which leads the NFL with 14.1 points allowed per game and will have the benefit of home-field advantage.
“It’s all about coming out in the first quarter and trying to set a tempo,” Campbell said. “As a quarterback, you’ve got to not try to dictate the game, but do everything you possibly can to get your own rhythm.”
Although Cutler has not practiced since sustaining his injury, he has spoken daily with Campbell to help him prepare for his first start since Oct. 16, 2011, when he broke his collarbone against the Cleveland Browns.
Campbell said his eight years of experience had taught him something else as he prepared for a nationally televised game against one of the league's best teams.
“Just have fun,” Campbell said. “You’ve got to let it hang out in a game like this.”