For weeks, Ibraheim Campbell was one injury away from significant playing time.
Initially, it was a Week 4 injury to Tashaun Gipson that amped up his preparation. Jordan Poyer filled the void while Campbell waited in the proverbial on-deck circle.
Even with Gipson back in the lineup for Cleveland's game Sunday against the Cardinals, Campbell remained one play away because of a shoulder injury Poyer suffered near the end of the previous week's loss to the Rams. Poyer was unavailable against Arizona and his status is no clearer for Thursday's game.
Campbell, a 5-foot-11, 208-pound thumper of a hitter, kept himself mentally prepared at both the free and strong safety positions. His knowledge of the latter was pivotal Sunday when he stepped in for Pro Bowl veteran Donte Whitner and played the majority of the second half after Whitner went down with a concussion.
As Campbell reflected on his performance Tuesday, he said he fared "OK" in his first extended NFL action outside of the special teams work he's done from Day 1. That feeling was shared by Browns coach Mike Pettine, who has raved about Campbell's smarts and physicality since Cleveland selected him in the fourth round of this past year's draft.
"We were confident that given the opportunity, that he would show up and make some plays. That was good to see (Monday)," Pettine said. "I think his physicality is one thing that sticks out when he's out there. I thought he made some real nice tackles in space. He's not afraid to stick it in there."
Campbell collected five tackles in the second half, including a nice, clean form hit on Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald late in the third quarter.
"That is something we have been preparing to always be ready because with this game, it is something that is always possible," Campbell said. "You can be in the very next play and be that guy. Always be ready to step up."
Campbell's preparation will be a little different during this short week.
With Whitner still in the league's concussion protocol and unlikely to be available Thursday against the Bengals, Campbell is poised to make his first NFL start. He'll be a key member of a Browns secondary that could be without two of its Pro Bowlers, as Joe Haden is also in the concussion protocol.
That his potential first NFL start will come on such a big stage against an undefeated division rival hasn't been lost on Campbell.
"You can't really ask for more than this to start in the National Football League on primetime television," Campbell said. "It is a huge opportunity, and I am looking forward to it."
2. No laughing matter
Josh McCown's collision with a wall that lined the field at St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome went viral, but it was never really a laughing matter with the veteran quarterback. His momentum carried him toward the wall and wasn't slowed enough by the time he reached it because of a concrete sidewalk of sorts that runs along the outside of the field. He banged his forearm in the process.
This past week, San Francisco running back Reggie Bush slipped on the same concrete and ultimately suffered a significant knee injury.
"I didn't see Reggie's but I was trying to avoid slipping completely," McCown said Tuesday. "I thought if I just kind of ice skate into it maybe it would be a better result. I'm bummed for him, that's not good."
On Tuesday, St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said the Rams were in discussions with the league office to see if there's any kind of short-term solution to the problem.
3. Snap count updates
Some notable numbers in the snap counts after Sunday's loss to Arizona:
-- After missing the previous four weeks with an ankle injury, Craig Robertson logged 56 of 81 defensive snaps at inside linebacker. Christian Kirksey played 28 and Karlos Dansby had his typical workload with 79.
-- Special teams ace Johnson Bademosi played 43 snaps on defense. The majority of those came after Haden went out with a concussion in the third quarter.
-- Campbell logged his first 36 defensive snaps of the season Sunday after Whitner's concussion.
-- With Andrew Hawkins sidelined because of a concussion, Marlon Moore played 10 snaps at wide receiver.
-- The running backs snaps broke down as follows: Duke Johnson Jr. 24, Isaiah Crowell 20 and Robert Turbin 19.
4. Stat of the week
McCown is officially the league's best quarterback on third downs after eight games. He boasts a quarterback rating of 137.3 on the decisive down. All three of his touchdown passes Sunday were on third down.