Veteran quarterback Jason Campbell, who can claim the distinction of being the first free agent signing since the start of free agency, is saying the right things. Realizing that starting quarterback Andy Dalton will remain the starter, the ten-year veteran accepts being the mentor that Cincinnati hopes will push their youngster.
"You always want to make the guy in front of you better ," Campbell said via Bengals.com. "I've been a starter most of my career, but at the same time there was always a guy in the room, whether it was an older guy or a younger guy that you felt you played better as a quarterback if you were pushed a little more. I just want to help him. Push him to be the best he can be.
"Ultimately, if that position is playing well, then we're in a situation to win games. I'll do everything I can to help him. At the same time I'm going to be prepared if my number comes up and for some reason I have to go in there and help us win. I'm just looking to go to work."
The Bengals, who reportedly choose Campbell based the familiarity that offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has for him, are satisfied with his experience and the aura of stability behind Dalton.
"Jason obviously has extensive playing and starting history," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, "and as a back-up (to Bengals starter Andy Dalton), he can provide the stability and experience we’re looking for in that role. His experience will be a great asset to our other quarterbacks.
"He can play and win games for you if you need him. He’s got great stature (6-5, 230) and strength, the ability to stand in there under pressure and really throw the ball down the field."
Campbell took over Cleveland’s starting QB position in Game 8 of last season and posted 100-plus passer ratings in his first two starts, at Kansas City and vs. Baltimore. He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his Nov. 3 performance against Baltimore, leading a 24-18 win with 23 completions in 35 attempts for 262 yards, three TDs and no INTs (rating of 116.6).
Jackson, promoted to offensive coordinator after Jay Gruden accepted the head coaching gig in Washington, will lean on Campbell.
"Jason can help me with things I can't see. Sometimes it doesn't take coaches to see things, but other players can be a big help," Jackson said. "He knows how I call a game. He knows what I want. He's got a feel for what I want to get done and he can help Andy with all of that."