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Three competing for Bears’ No. 3 quarterback job

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Updated: September 21, 2013 6:28AM

Quarterbacks Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards aren’t at Halas Hall merely to throw passes to rookie
receivers and give Jay Cutler and Josh McCown a break now and then.

There might be a roster spot to be won.

Coach Marc Trestman indicated he has a preference for keeping three quarterbacks on his 53-man roster, and Matt Blanchard was in line to be the third-stringer. He was having success in Trestman’s West Coast scheme, but a broken knuckle on his left hand suffered last week against the San Diego Chargers led to the additions of Palmer and Edwards.

‘‘You’re always thinking three,’’ Trestman said.
‘‘Because if somebody does go down, that person’s been in the room and he’s been in the meetings and he’s connected with the staff and with the other quarterbacks. So the thought would be to have three, but the roster may dictate that we have to go in another direction and go only with two. We’ll see what happens as we move to cut-down dates.’’

The Bears’ decision about whether to keep a third quarterback will depend on how well Palmer and Edwards grasp the system and perform in the final two preseason games. If a third quarterback is kept, it’ll have a trickle-down effect, especially with the Bears likely to keep four specialists (including kick returner Devin Hester).

Trestman is planning to hold Cutler and McCown out of the final preseason game Aug. 29 against the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field. Palmer and Edwards will split the playing time in that game. Cutler will play the
entire first half Friday against the Oakland Raiders, and McCown will take over in the third quarter. Trestman said he’s planning to play Palmer in the fourth quarter.

‘‘I’m trying to show I can digest a complicated offense and translate that over to the field,’’ Palmer said. ‘‘We’ll see what happens. [Just] put some good stuff on tape, move the ball when I’m in there, move the chains, finish off some drives.’’

Edwards is more experienced, having started 33 games and seeing time with four teams during his NFL
career. Palmer has appeared in only four NFL games, which might be the reason the Bears are planning more preseason work for him.

But both impressed the Bears enough during an offseason workout to get a call after Blanchard was injured. The Bears also are confident enough with their depth at other positions to let them compete.

‘‘Any time I’m in this facility, it’s auditioning, no matter what,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘I have to put my best foot forward. I know I don’t have a lot of time. People have to make decisions, so I have to do whatever I can and get better.’’

As far as Blanchard, there’s no timetable for his return. He was wearing a soft cast Monday and said he still is meeting with doctors and trainers. The frustrating thing for Blanchard is that there was a roster spot to be had and that Trestman liked what he was doing.

‘‘Depending on Matt’s situation, we’ll have to make a determination whether we’ll have three or possibly four [quarterbacks] on the roster — more likely three,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘And that could involve one of those two guys [Palmer and Edwards], certainly, at this point.’’

Blanchard said he feels good about the progress he has made.

‘‘I feel good about moving forward, and a lot of the stuff’s out of my hands at this point,’’ he said. ‘‘I just have to help the new quarterbacks coming in to get them ready for Oakland and get them ready for the last preseason game and be the best teammate possible.’’


Twitter: @adamjahns

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