Raiders castoffs Michael Bush, Jason Campbell have been recast with Bears
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org November 17, 2012 1:00AM
Michael Bush (above) and Jason Campbell thought the Raiders could have been a contender. | AP
Updated: December 19, 2012 1:32PM
After they joined the Bears, running back Michael Bush and quarterback Jason Campbell talked about Oakland.
Primarily, how they weren’t there anymore.
‘‘We both sat down and talked about, ‘We didn’t see it coming,’ ” Campbell said earlier this season. ‘‘How things played out.’’
The Raiders haven’t posted a winning season since 2002, after which they advanced to Super Bowl XXXVII. But Campbell immediately elevated them upon his arrival in 2010 after being traded from the Washington Redskins. The offense jumped from 31st to sixth in scoring and 31st to 10th in yards in a season in which the Raiders went 8-8, with Campbell going 8-5 as a starter.
Last season, Campbell got the Raiders off to a 4-2 start with victories over the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos, and the offense was ranked 11th.
Then the wheels, as often is the case in Oakland, fell off.
Campbell got hurt and the Raiders panicked, trading a first- and second-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Carson Palmer. Then running back Darren McFadden suffered a foot injury.
Palmer went 4-5 as a starter, and the Raiders finished 8-8.
During the offseason, there was a major overhaul, most notably the firing of coach Hue Jackson, a former Bengals assistant who pushed for the Palmer trade.
‘‘In Oakland, it seemed like everything was turning around,’’ Campbell said. ‘‘We had a young nucleus that was growing together.
‘‘You don’t want to live in the past no more — we’re excited to be here — but sometimes you’re like, ‘Man, we were at an organization that was down and we started to turn it around, and now all of a sudden you’re just not a part of it and you were kind of pushed out the door.’ ’’
Added Bush during training camp, ‘‘Sometimes it’s how things happen, and you can’t control it.’’
What a difference a year makes.
The Raiders are 3-6, and Campbell and Bush are playing key roles for the 7-2 Bears as they head back to the Bay Area to face the San Francisco 49ers on ‘‘Monday Night Football.’’
Bush said during training camp that he was disappointed not to get any offers to start after starting nine games for the Raiders last season and finishing just 23 yards shy of 1,000.
On Thursday, when asked if there was any emotion in returning to the area where he spent the first four years of his NFL career, he paused, processed the question, then shrugged his shoulders as if to say, ‘‘Whatever.’’
Added Campbell, ‘‘I’m just going to play my game,’’ noting that it would be different if the game were against the Raiders.
The Bears certainly are thrilled to have them both.
Take Bush. He’s only averaging 3.7 yards per carry, but he has been effective in the one area that has most plagued the Bears during Matt Forte’s tenure: short-yardage situations. Bush already has converted five third-and-ones, the same as Chester Taylor in 2010 and just one shy of Marion Barber last season. Bush also has reached pay dirt three times already.
As for Campbell, we may well see whether he’s worth the one-year, $3.5 million contract he signed during the offseason. He’ll fill in for Jay Cutler (concussion) on Monday night. He still, after all, wants to be a full-time starter again.
‘‘I have to prepare and think like a starter,” he said earlier in the year, ‘‘if the opportunity does present itself.’’
‘‘Monday Night Football’’ always shines the spotlight brightly on the two teams. But the Bears and San Francisco 49ers have generated plenty of headlines without ESPN’s help.
Both teams’ quarterbacks suffered concussions last week, and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh underwent a minor procedure for an irregular heartbeat Thursday.
‘‘Prayers are with him,” 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith said shortly after hearing the news.
Harbaugh rejoined the team Friday morning.
The Bears, meanwhile, found themselves in some muck because of comments from linebacker Brian Urlacher and kicker Robbie Gould about concussions and the Soldier Field turf, respectively.
The Bears have 30 takeaways, according to STATS — 16 more than the league average. The New York Giants are second with 27. The Indianapolis Colts are last with six.