BOURBONNAIS – One year ago in the same room we sat in Wednesday at Olivet Nazarene University, Phil Emery put his trust in Josh McCown to be the Bears’ backup quarterback.
At the opening news conference for the 2014 training camp, Phil Emery and Marc Trestman talked at length about the two veterans vying to be this year’s McCown, Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen.
Despite the heavy praise Emery had for Clausen, whose workout with the Bears was “as good a quarterback workout that we’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Palmer still has the first shot to be Jay Cutler’s backup.
“There’s three guys there up for the No. 2, but it’s going to start with Jordan and we feel really good about Jimmy and we felt really good about David [Fales]’ performance as well,” Trestman said. “We’re going to give Jordan the first shot, he’s been here the longest. Jimmy Clausen has the most experience, so we’re going to work him in there. We’re going to continue to provide David with opportunity throughout camp to play and perform not only in practice, but in the games.”
Emery was impressed with the progress he saw from Clausen after shoulder surgery last September.
“I think he grew from a leadership perspective. I think his focus grew. He always showed me he could be creative and make some plays on his own,” Emery said. “I don’t think mobility is his biggest asset, but I definitely saw a player that knows how to get out of the way and get the ball off in time, and a mentally tough player that will take a hit to deliver the ball with accuracy and precision.
“I really like how he came in here. He’s got a little chip on his shoulder right now. He wants to re-prove himself or prove himself and he’s very focused.”
Emery said that Clausen reached out to Cutler and the two of them spent a weekend working on the playbook, helping get Clausen through minicamp and sticking with the roster for Bourbonnais.
The issue for every team’s competition at backup quarterback – always a weird battle on a team like the Bears, when the winner of the No. 2 job ideally will only take a snap if Cutler gets hurt – is reps.
“It’s going to be interesting. There’s not going to be a lot of reps for them,” Cutler said. “I think a lot of it is going to play out in the preseason games, because I’m going to get a lot of the reps in camp.
“Jordan, he’s been around a long time, his older brother, he’s been able to watch him a lot. Jimmy, he’s played in big games at Notre Dame and kinda got the pedigree. He’s a high-round pick, he was in a tough position in Carolina. They’re both both very hungry, they’ve both worked extremely hard this offseason putting in the time mentally, which is probably more important for them right now, just trying to figure out the playbook so they can go to the line of scrimmage and be fluent in what they want to do. We’ll see how it goes.”