FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2013 file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell (17) is chased by St. Louis Rams' Matt Conrath in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game, in Cleveland. Browns backup quarterback Jason Campbell will replace struggling Brandon Weeden and start on Sunday in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
BEREA, Ohio — It’s backup Jason Campbell’s turn to start at quarterback for the Browns.
Coach Rob Chudzinksi benched struggling starter Brandon Weeden and will go with Campbell on Sunday against the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs. Campbell is the third QB to start in eight games for Cleveland, following Weeden and Brian Hoyer, who sustained a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 3.
“It’s a tough decision,” Chudzinski said. “I believe this is in the best interest of the team, and ultimately and gives us the best chance to win. I’m excited to see what Jason will do with this opportunity.”
Campbell will be the 20th quarterback for the Browns since they returned as an expansion team in 1999. He’ll make his first start for Cleveland against one of the NFL’s best defenses. The Chiefs lead the league with 35 sacks.
Weeden, who began the season as Cleveland’s starter before he sprained his thumb and was replaced by Hoyer, played poorly in losses to Detroit and Green Bay. He completed just 17 of 42 passes against the Packers.
Weeden politely declined to speak with reporters.
“I’m not going today, guys,” he said.
Chudzinski said the choice to switch to Campbell, who has made 71 NFL starts in nine seasons, was based on “consistency and production.”
“I think that looking at Jason and the things that he brings to the table, leadership, his experience, he’s been productive and he’s been successful in the league,” Chudzinski said. “I think when you look at his arm strength and you look at his mobility and some of those things, and tie it into as far as a game plan standpoint, it’s what we feel like we need for this game and gives us the best chance.”
Cleveland fans have been clamoring for a change, but Chudzinksi said Weeden’s lack of support was not a factor in making another change.
Chudzinski would not make a commitment to Campbell beyond this week’s game.
“We’re going to evaluate it on a week-to-week basis,” Chudzinski said, “and the goal is to put the guy out there who gives us the best opportunity to win. Going back and forth isn’t ideal, but ultimately finding the production and consistency that we need is the goal.”
Campbell was passed over by Hoyer when Weeden got hurt, but the 31-year-old is excited for a chance to start again and possibly spark the Browns.
“It’s an opportunity to go out there and just get back to the game and just having fun,” Campbell said. “Obviously, we want to go win games and do the best we can. But at the same time we understand we’re a growing football team and our goal and mission every week is to go out and win games. The one thing we can’t forget is just to get back to having fun.”
Campbell made one start for Chicago last season. He went 4-2 as a starter for Oakland in 2011, but had his season ended when he broke his collarbone against the Browns.