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‘Energized’ McCown running with chance to prove his worth

Updated: December 16, 2013 6:38AM



Jordan Palmer’s decision made Josh McCown chuckle, but Palmer had a victory to earn and plenty of faith that McCown would help deliver it for him.

So Palmer, the Bears’ No. 3 quarterback, started the Bears’ backup on his fantasy team.

Against the Packers.

In Green Bay.

On “Monday Night Football.”

“And he scored 31 points and I beat somebody by three,” Palmer said. “He was laughing that I started him, but I was expecting him to go in there and throw for 270-plus yards, a couple touchdowns and no picks. And that’s what happened.”

There’s no word yet whether Palmer will start McCown on ­Sunday against the Baltimore ­Ravens. But the faith in him is still there, and it’s a faith that’s permeated Halas Hall.

“Guys on this team don’t look at Josh as a backup,” Palmer said.

The sample size is small — two relief appearances and one full game against the Packers — but McCown has shown that he’s capable of being more than just your typical NFL journeyman backup. The 34-year-old in his 11th NFL season is proving that there just might be some very good football left him.

“I don’t know what the deal is with people not realizing this before but the dude can freaking spin it,” Palmer said. “He can run, he can make plays [and] he makes good decisions.”

Sometimes it just takes the right system, coaches and teammates to help make things click. It’s something McCown openly acknowledges, describing coach Marc Trestman’s offense as “a quarterback friendly” one with talent ­everywhere.

McCown’s best season came in 2004, when he went 6-7 as a starter in Arizona with young, promising receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan ­Boldin.

“Sometimes everything in life is just about opportunities and when things happen,” said McCown, who has completed 60 percent of his passes for 538 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 103.2 passer rating this season.

“The timing of all of this for me in this stage of my career to get hooked up with these coaches and these players, it’s just all coming together at the right time. It’s energized me, no doubt about it, because it’s fun to work with people that understand what they’re doing and are going to put you in a chance to be successful.”

McCown was done not too long ago. He was coaching high-school football outside of Charlotte. But injuries and Cutler’s fondness for him led to a second ­go-around with the Bears last season.

McCown said he was never ­bothered by the perception that his biggest strength was working well with Cutler.

“Whether that was why I’m here or not was never in my mind,” McCown said. “I just value being a great teammate and a friend.”

Now, everyone is seeing how valuable McCown can be on the field with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte at his disposal and protected by an offensive line that’s allowed the third fewest sacks in the league.

“You can absolutely attribute some of [his success] to the talent around him, but that doesn’t mean you can throw anybody into this mix,” Palmer said. “He is handling everything that he is accountable for.”

McCown stressed that he is ­focused on the present. If he’s registered more consideration from the Bears and other teams, that can wait.

“It’s a cliché, but I have to stay right here because to me the key for my consistency and playing the way I’m playing is to stay focused on today and right now,” McCown said.

That said, his fantasy owner knows what to expect.

“Josh is going to light it up this week and then he’s going light it up the next week because he’s a really good player playing on a really good team,” Palmer said. “It’s literally that simple.”

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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