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Bears sign former Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen

CarolinPanthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen (2) prepares throw pass against Chicago Bears first half an NFL football game Charlotte N.C. Sunday

Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen (2) prepares to throw a pass against the Chicago Bears in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Rick Havner)

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Updated: June 6, 2014 9:48AM

The Bears will audition four quarterbacks to back up Jay Cutler over the next two weeks, if not longer.

The latest addition is the most familiar face — former Notre Dame star Jimmy Clausen signed a one-year deal with the team Thursday.

Clausen said he felt “the healthiest I have been” since entering his junior year with the Fighting Irish.

“Extremely excited to be a part of the Bears organization,” he said. “Blessed to have this opportunity.”

He signed after an impressive showing Thursday at Halas Hall that included field work and a positive interview.

Only 26, Clausen has youth and starting experience on his side, along with mental toughness that comes from backing up star Cam Newton the last three seasons.

With a tight, accurate spiral, the 2010 second-round pick has a superior pedigree to Jordan Palmer, Jerrod Johnson and rookie David Fales.

Clausen has 10 career starts; the other three have zero.

The 6-2, 210-pounder has 1,558 career passing yards; Palmer has 59, the others zero.

But Clausen and the Bears’ three other backups share one thing — none has thrown a regular-season pass in the last three years.

Before the draft, coach Marc Trestman said the team would examine all possibilities when it came to reserve quarterbacks, which resulted in selecting Fales.

General manager Phil Emery said last month he was absolutely comfortable with Palmer as the team’s No. 2 quarterback. The team, however, has stressed competition.

After passing for 3,722 yards his junior year at Notre Dame, Clausen entered the 2010 draft and was picked No. 48 overall by the Panthers.

He started 10 games and appeared in three more as a rookie, completing 52.5 percent of his 299 attempts for three touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The Panthers went 2-14 and drafted Newton No. 1 overall the next year. Clausen never threw another regular-season pass.

He spent last season on injured reserve — he was waived but wasn’t claimed — after tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder the last week of the preseason. Dr. James Andrews performed surgery in September.

His contract expired in March, making him a free agent. The Bears were happy with his health.

They won’t have much time with Clausen — four days of organized team activities and three days of veteran minicamp — before traveling to Bourbonnais in July, but Trestman is familiar with his work.

He tutored Clausen before the 2010 draft, running his pro day — in which he completed 57 of 59 passes — at Notre Dame.

Trestman liked him coming out of college. In his book, Trestman praised Clausen and Florida star Tim Tebow, who “I’m sure are headed for future NFL stardom.”

To make room, the Bears waived linebacker Lawrence Wilson.

Though the Bears will keep five quarterbacks through the veteran minicamp, the same might not be true for training camp, which starts July 24.


Twitter: @patrickfinley

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