By Tom Withers | Associated Press
BEREA -- Jason Campbell's headaches are gone, and for the moment, so are Cleveland's pains at quarterback.
Campbell, who sat out last week's game with a concussion, has been cleared by an independent neurologist to play and will start on Sunday when the Browns visit New England.
His return is a huge relief to the Browns, who are also without part-time starter Brandon Weeden because of a concussion and were facing the prospect of starting either quarterback Caleb Hanie or Alex Tanney -- both signed in the past week -- against the Patriots and defensive-fixated coach Bill Belichick.
Campbell's comeback has taken some pressure off.
"He's going to help us," linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "He's played well when he was healthy, and he's shown he can be a trooper and take a pounding and still come back. I'm happy for him, and he's going to give this team a big boost."
Weeden sustained a concussion last week and has been ruled out Sunday. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he hasn't decided if Campbell's backup will be Hanie or Tanney.
Campbell practiced for the second straight day on Friday, and following the workout inside Cleveland's field house said he's ready to resume what has been a "roller-coaster season" for him and his teammates.
"I feel great," said Campbell, who was injured on Nov. 24 on a blindside hit by Pittsburgh cornerback William Gay. "Our training staff has done an outstanding job taking the protocols seriously and making sure that before you get back out on the field that you're 100 percent ready to go.
"I had a great two days of practice."
Campbell said he suffered the second concussion of his NFL career -- the other was in 2011 -- when he was blasted in the face mask by a blitzing Gay, who also caused a fumble that the Steelers returned to Cleveland's 4-yard line. Campbell doesn't believe Gay's hit was a "cheap" shot and said he may have contributed to the severity of the injury by slightly dropping his head to brace for contact.
Gay was not penalized on what turned out to be a game-swinging play, but he was fined $15,750 last week by the league for unnecessarily delivering a "forcible blow to his opponent's head and neck area."
Campbell acknowledged that the lack of a penalty gave the Steelers a big advantage.
"It was a huge play in the game," he said. "I remember it was a one-possession game, and you're talking about us having the ball inside the 20 with a first down rather than them having the ball on the opposite 4-yard line. That's a major change in the game because if that doesn't happen, then they're not in that situation."
Campbell experienced headaches, dizziness and was bothered by the glare of lights -- all typical concussion symptoms.
He was confined to his couch at home and said it was difficult being away from his teammates.
"It's good to be back with the guys," said Campbell, who will be making his fifth start of 2013. "You're sitting home that long, you feel like you're missing something. You feel like you're away from it, like you've been punished or something -- like I've been suspended from school basically. But I'm just glad to be back out here with these guys and to finish the season out together and put together four great games."
Campbell's head injury was an unexpected setback in what has been a challenging year.
The 31-year-old waited patiently for his chance to start for the Browns (4-8), who have spent most of the past decade shuffling quarterbacks in and out their lineup. Campbell was passed on the depth chart after Weeden was hurt in Week 2 by Brian Hoyer, and then he suffered bruised ribs in a game against Baltimore on Nov. 3. The concussion was another obstacle, but Campbell was determined to finish the season.
"It's very important," said Campbell, who added that his ribs have healed. "It's frustrating to have to sit at the house last week because you haven't played all season and all of a sudden you get a chance to play and everything is all about rhythm and getting a chemistry with the guys. I just felt like sometimes things happen for a reason but it was tough sitting down.
"I think it was important to get back playing, but at the same time there is a life after football and I wanted to make sure that part was handled correctly before I got back on the field."