Chargers cornerback Tevaughn Campbell had a short walk to the end zone against the New York Jets on Sunday, but there was nothing short or easy about his path to the NFL.
Campbell only had to roll 6 yards after intercepting quarterback Joe Flacco’s pass intended for Jamison Crowder in the first quarter of the Chargers’ 34-28 victory at SoFi Stadium.
“It looked easy,” Campbell said, “but it was definitely something we practiced all week. I’ve seen the look in practice, so I had anticipated it a bit. ”
Campbell, 27, spent four seasons in the Canadian Football League and dreamed of making those kinds of plays in the NFL. It was Campbell’s first interception and touchdown in the NFL – and he did it against his former team.
Campbell joined the Jets in 2019 on a reserve / future contract after leaving the Canadian Football League. But he didn’t play his first game of the NFL regular season against the Carolina Panthers until week 3 of this season.
“I definitely had a dream and that was to go to the NFL,” said Campbell, who was born in Scarborough, Canada, near Toronto. “I spent four years in the CFL pursuing that dream and thank goodness I made it here.”
The Chargers signed Campbell to their exhibition team after he was released by the Jets last season. He was waived a few times by the Chargers before making his debut in Week 3.
Campbell worked his way from practice team player to backup defender this season back to starting cornerback for the Chargers. He became the starter when the Chargers traded Desmond King to the Tennessee Titans and Chris Harris Jr. sustains a foot injury while in reserve.
But Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said Campbell earned his starting role improving every week since seeing a wave of snaps in Week 8 against the Denver Broncos. Campbell had a season-high 57 defensive snaps against the Jets.
“This young man gets better every game,” said Lynn. “He hadn’t played much American football so I love what he does and I like how (defensive back coach) Ron Milus develops this young man.
“The more football he plays, the better his football instinct will be. And you will see him make more of those plays. ”
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Campbell became the first Canadian-born defensive player to score a touchdown for the Chargers. Overall, he was the first Canadian to score a touchdown for the Chargers since wide receiver Ryan Thelwell in 1998.
Campbell is only the second Canadian to play cornerback in an NFL game in the past 50 years, according to the Toronto Sun. The other Canadian cornerback was Davis Sanchez, who played for the Chargers in 2001 and 2002.
Campbell said he had not played a slot cornerback in his career before this season. He played college football at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan and was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in the third round of the 2015 CFL Draft.
“It was absolutely different,” Campbell said of playing slot corner. “It was definitely a different position, but we worked on it in training camp. We’ve been working on it all year, so I kind of filled in where it was needed. ”
Lynn said Campbell will remain in the defensive backs rotation after Harris returns from the injured reserve. Harris is almost back on the active squad, according to Lynn.
“Chris will play the nickel,” Lynn said Monday, “but Tevaughn will be on the pitch at some point.”
Lynn said pass rusher Uchenna Nwosu went to hospital after injuring his shoulder against the Jets in the second quarter.
“From what I’ve heard, I’m going to be fine,” Lynn said. “I just don’t know how long it will take to get it back.”
Nwosu has 3.5 sacks, 23 combined tackles and eight quarterback hits this season.
TURNER RECEIVES STITCHES
Judge guard Trai Turner left the game in the second half of Sunday because he needed stitches after cutting his lip, Lynn said.
Lynn said Turner can practice and play fine this week. Cole Toner replaced Turner after he left.
Lynn didn’t give a clear update on Austin Ekeler’s backsliding, but he said on Monday he misses the dynamic playmaker.
“That would be nice,” Lynn said of Ekeler who may return to practice this week. “We certainly miss him, but when he is ready, he will be ready.”
Ekeler went into reserve after an injury to his hamstring in Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.