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Bears happy with Jordan Palmer at backup QB but ...

Updated: June 8, 2014 6:37AM



Ex-Bears backup quarterback Josh McCown was honored Tuesday at Halas Hall with the Brian Piccolo Award — a strong reminder of what the Bears have lost and the Buccaneers have gained.

“It’s impossible to replace a person like Josh McCown,” quarterback Jay Cutler said.

But there was his replacement — Jordan Palmer — sitting next to coach Marc Trestman and a seat away from Cutler as McCown and offensive tackle Jordan Mills were honored. The Bears are hoping Palmer can emulate McCown.

“I feel very good about [Palmer],” Trestman said. “I feel good about his preparation. His work ethic is very similar to Josh’s. He spends a lot of time here. He’s taken over the tradition now of getting these new guys ready.

“At this point, you’d have to feel good about Palmer’s experience. He doesn’t have a lot of hits on him right now. He’s very much engaged in the offense.”

The Bears believe in Palmer, who has only thrown 15 career passes. But another quarterback might be brought in to compete with Palmer and practice-squader Jerrod Johnson.

General manager Phil Emery’s research indicates that drafting a quarterback with a late-round selection isn’t wise because “there isn’t a single quarterback after the third round since [2006] that has been a long-term starter,” he said last week.

But what about a potential backup?

There are some current ones who were drafted in the middle to late rounds since 2006, including Palmer, a sixth-round pick out of Texas-El Paso in 2007.

In other words, the Bears selecting a quarterback in the later rounds this week can’t be ruled out. Trestman actually suggested that option at the NFL owners meetings in March.

The question is: Would a rookie quarterback shake up the room too much?

The Bears’ backup situation tends to be more unique than others, considering Cutler’s injury history. Also, being able to work with Cutler is as essential as being able to play well in his place.

“When two quarterbacks were as close and Jay and Josh were, there’s got to be competition, there’s got to be challenge, but more than anything, there’s got to be an understanding and love for one another,” quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh said. “It was evident every day. They both had their unique way of dealing with each other. Sometimes it was fun to watch and sometimes it was brutal to watch, but they challenged each other, they pushed each other and they complemented each other.

“For that reason, Josh had the success he had, and I think Jay would be the first to tell you that a lot of his success was due to Josh.”

It’s that dynamic that comes into play when drafting a quarterback, regardless of round.

“[Palmer] certainly looks like he can sufficiently throw the football the times we’ve seen him work, and he’s a joy to work with every day and to help develop,” Trestman said. “We all know that every quarterback’s journey is different; sometimes quarterbacks excel at different times in their lives.”

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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