We finally got an update on former Lions draft pick Caleb Campbell back in March, but until today all had been quiet on that front. The latest news, coming from After Action, is that Campbell will be in Allen Park for this weekend's rookie minicamp, which will be held from Friday to Sunday. The Lions' draft picks, undrafted free agent signings, and those who have been invited for a tryout will attend the minicamp, giving the coaches and front office personnel a chance to evaluate everybody in person at the same time.
The story in March that sort of came out of nowhere included the news that Campbell had been offered a contract by the Lions, but as of right now he has yet to be signed. According to Campbell, though, it should be only a matter of time until he has a deal with the team.
Campbell has not yet signed a contract with the Lions, but said he expects to get that completed "very, very soon."
The two interesting things about this story are the process that Campbell has to go through just to be able to pursue a career in the NFL and the fact that the Lions are a completely different organization from when he was last here. Let's first look at Campbell's schedule for leaving active duty to attempt to play professional football.
Campbell is still on active duty and is stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., where he’s completing the Army’s BOLC II course. Graduation is scheduled for July 16, and the tentative plan is to leave active duty after that and join a field artillery unit in the Michigan National Guard. Campbell says all of his paperwork has been filed, and that all that’s left to do is graduate.
Based on that schedule, Campbell would graduate a couple weeks before training camp gets going in Allen Park. While attending this rookie minicamp is important so Campbell can once again show the new coaching staff and front office what he's got (he reportedly tried out for the team back in March), training camp is where he would earn a spot on the roster. Even if that happens, though, he's not home free from Army policies by any means.
"It’s such a broad policy. The language can be interpreted several different ways," Campbell said. "I hope [my experience] shines a light on it so they can have a smoother process for guys" in the future.
If Campbell makes the Lions, part of the early release policy requires Campbell to pay back a prorated amount of the costs of his West Point education in exchange for the portion of his five-year active-duty commitment that he will not be serving. Campbell said it’s unclear at this point how much he will owe.
Campbell's chances of making the roster are obviously unknown right now. Let's not forget that Matt Millen was the one who drafted Campbell, Rod Marinelli was the coach back then, and Campbell moved to linebacker since that was a better fit for him in the Lions' old defense. Now, though, Jim Schwartz is the head coach, Martin Mayhew is the general manager, and the defense is completely different.
Other than the uniforms, the Detroit team Campbell will be signing with barely resembles the team he almost played for two years ago. The general manager, head coach, defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator and a host of players are long gone from the team that went 0-16 in 2008.
The funny thing about this quote from the article is that the uniforms and logo are different too. I guess this just goes to show you how much things can change in only a couple of seasons, because the Lions are much different than when Campbell was last here as a member of the team. The good news is that all of these changes are for the better and the outlook is positive, and I really hope Campbell makes it and gets to be a part of this ongoing rebuilding process. Not only would that mean that Campbell is good enough to contribute to the team, but it would also mean that his patience paid off in the form of a chance to play in the NFL, which is long overdue in my opinion.