Another Comeback in the Works

Lake Forest - In the past week Marc Colombo was elevated to the 53-man roster and played in his first game in nearly two years. The Bears are hoping for a quicker turnaround as DT Darrell Campbell is trying to return from a knee injury he suffered in March.

After spending the first nine weeks of the season on the reserve non-football injury list, Campbell started a three-week window to practice with the team and either be moved to the 53-man roster or Injured Reserve.

During a pre-draft workout for the Baltimore Ravens, Campbell tore up his knee because a hole in the field turf at the Notre Dame facility.

Before the injury, Campbell was a potential first day draft choice, but had to settle for being an undrafted free agent.

The difficult road has forced Campbell to take a philosophical approach to his NFL future.

"It's been a strange situation being on the team yet not a real part of things," Campbell said. "As an undrafted rookie, I came to Chicago from Notre Dame not knowing for sure what my status would be. So in that sense I am fortunate to still be here. But now my window of opportunity has arrived. I started practicing last week and have until December 1 to prove myself."

During his time as a reserve player, Campbell has attended all team meetings and has continued with a rigorous workout program. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman would seem to prototypical tackle in the slimmer defensive line.

Whether Campbell will be activated this year is doubtful, as he faces stiff competition from a strong crop of young players on the interior of the d-line.

Campbell is a local product who graduated from Thornwood High School in South Holland where he served as captain and earned MVP honors for three seasons. At Notre Dame, he played as a three-year starter at DT and DE and started 34 of 44 games for the Irish. He totaled 87 tackles (48 solos) with 231/2 stops for losses and 11 sacks, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a pass deflection.

Although a gifted athlete, Campbell is also intellectually inclined. He was the first in his family to attend college. He graduated in four years from the College of Arts and Letters with degrees in English and in Computer Applications.

He often writes poetry and short stories in his spare time feeling that ‘the effort keeps me centered.' Campbell hopes to be a published author some day and to inspire other youths to take the path he chose to cope with a difficult childhood environment.

"It was sometimes pretty hard growing up, but I found my way through it thanks to religion and writing," Campbell said. "That's a better way to handle life than to go out and get really angry about things."

His equanimity has stood him in good stead through his first few months in the NFL. Now he hopes he has the inner strength to make it to the next level.

"I never quite know what to expect," Campbell said. "I just go out there and do what the coaches want me to do. I hope that I can give them what they're looking for. This is a great opportunity and I want to make the best of it."

But there is a downside, at least from Campbell's point of view.

"I have mixed feelings about the whole situation," Campbell said. "I want to be there in games with the rest of the guys, but I realize that if I make it, one of my friends will be cut. I feel there's definitely a place for me in this league, and my preference is to stay with the Chicago Bears. I just don't want anybody to lose his job because of me."


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