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Bears looking to narrow field at minicamp with 4 backup QBs

Chicago Bears quarterback Jordan Palmer looks pass during an NFL football practice Lake Forest Ill. Tuesday May 27 2014. (AP

Chicago Bears quarterback Jordan Palmer looks to a pass during an NFL football practice in Lake Forest, Ill., Tuesday, May 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ORG XMIT: OTKNH143

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Updated: July 18, 2014 6:17AM

The old saying is that teams with two starting quarterbacks really have none.

But what happens when a team has four backups?

The Bears have their starter locked in and locked up — Jay Cutler signed a seven-year extension in January — but are looking to replace Josh McCown as Cutler’s understudy. They likely will spend three days of mandatory minicamp, starting Tuesday, trying to whittle the number to three before
going to Bourbonnais next month.

Here’s a look at the four candidates:

Jordan Palmer

Short story: Palmer is a six-year veteran but has only 15 regular-season passes on his resume. Still, he has the most experience in the Bears’ system behind Cutler.

Why he’ll make it: He’ll make it because his throwing arm is healthy, because he’s smart and effective in the Bears’ offense and because Cutler trusts his input.

Why he won’t: Palmer is the clear ­favorite, but his strained chest muscle and ­shoulder might derail his chances.

Quotable: ‘‘To be able to spend the time I did in the offseason — January, February, March — preparing for what was going to happen this year, watching every single snap that Josh [McCown] and Jay took last offseason, it’s put me in a great spot to come in here.’’

Jimmy Clausen

Short story: The Notre Dame alum started 10 games as a rookie for the ­­Carolina Panthers in 2010 but never threw another regular-season pass after the team drafted Cam Newton. The Bears signed him this month after he recovered from surgery on his right shoulder.

Why he’ll make it: He feels as healthy as he has since his last season of college, and the Bears value his arm strength, mental makeup and starting experience.

Why he won’t: Clausen got off to a late start — he was signed only after Palmer’s injury — and has had to learn the playbook during his audition.

Quotable: ‘‘If you’re a free agent, you’re going to be thrown into a situation where you have to learn faster to get up to speed. That’s a big challenge for me.’’

David Fales

Short story: The Bears’ sixth-round selection (183rd pick) was a prolific passer at San Jose State, throwing for 8,382 yards and 66 touchdowns (with 22 interceptions) in two seasons.

Why he’ll make it: Simply put, the Bears drafted him. If Fales was worth the investment in the draft, he will continue to be worth the investment leading into the season. He might not have a big arm, but the Bears value his intelligence and accuracy.

Why he won’t: Injuries — to himself or others — might be the only thing to keep him off the 53-man roster. The Bears prefer to keep three quarterbacks, but injuries at other positions might make it unrealistic.

Quotable: ‘‘You have to prepare like you’re the starting quarterback, whether you’re fourth string, third string or second string.’’

Jerrod Johnson

Short story: The former Texas A&M star — who never has thrown a regular-season pass — spent about three weeks on the Bears’ practice squad last season before being re-signed in December.

Why he’ll make it: Johnson has shown versatility by helping out with special-teams drills, but he needs to show consistency to beat out experienced counterparts.

Why he won’t: The Bears have another project in Fales. Having drafted Fales, they might be predisposed to keep Fales over Johnson.

Quotable: ‘‘I’m familiar with my ­surroundings. That’s huge. For a quarterback, the biggest thing is being comfortable. . . . I definitely feel I was comfortable ­knowing what I was getting myself into.’’

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