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QB Jason Campbell gets by on ‘mental reps’

Chicago Bears quarterback JasCampbell throws during fourth quarter Soldier Field Chicago Ill. Sunday November 11 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times

Chicago Bears quarterback Jason Campbell throws during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill., on Sunday, November 11, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Jason Campbell did his best to perform without much practice.

“I’m standing back and watching,” the Bears’ backup quarterback said. “You don’t get any reps during the week, so you have to get a lot of mental reps. I was trying to do some of the things I learned during the week and apply them.”

Those mental reps turned into Campbell completing 11 of 19 passes for 94 yards after he replaced Jay Cutler in the second half of the Bears’ 13-6 loss against the Houston Texans on Sunday.

But Campbell was signed for predicaments like this. There’s no telling when Cutler will return from his concussion, and Campbell, an eight-year veteran, said recently that the playbook doesn’t get scaled back for him.

A look at the game film better illustrates how Campbell was used Sunday:

◆ Campbell had 34 plays, including 22 pass attempts. Shotgun formations were used 15 times and play-action three times.

◆ On passing plays, the Bears used seven blockers (including running backs Matt Forte or Michael Bush) six times, six blockers twice and even eight once to ward off the Texans’ rush.

◆ Campbell felt serious pressure only once — when safety Glover Quin blitzed from the right edge, forcing a quick throw to tight end Kellen Davis, who stumbled, leaving Danieal Manning with a near-interception.

◆ Brandon Marshall was targeted nine times by Campbell, making six catches for 81 yards. But most of that came on 45- and 18-yard completions to him. The rest were short gains, primarily on curl/hitch routes.

◆ Despite solid protection, Campbell threw to his “check-down” receiver too soon at times. For instance, when he threw to tight end Matt Spaeth for a one-yard loss late in the fourth quarter, Marshall had gotten open after a defender slipped.

◆ When the Bears had third-and-goal on the 6 in the third, Campbell rolled to his right on a designed play with seven blockers, including Forte, but just two receivers in Marshall and Earl Bennett. The Texans had three defenders to cover Marshall and Bennett.

“I’ll just take from this game the rhythm … and getting guys used to me and me more used to them,” Campbell said.

Campbell, who has a 31-39 record as an NFL starter, had thrown only one pass this season before Sunday.

“It’s your job as a backup to try and study as much as you can, even though you don’t get the reps throughout the week,” Campbell said. “[It’s] just study and try to apply everything you learned during the week onto the field. It’s not an easy task when you have to go in against top-two or -three defenses. If I have to go in next week [against the San Francisco 49ers], it’s another headhunting defense.”



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