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Five’s a crowd at QB as Bears look for Cutler’s backup

Updated: June 17, 2014 10:27PM

Jay Cutler needs some room to put his feet up. Having five quarterbacks, coach Marc Trestman and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh in one meeting room makes for cramped conditions.

‘‘I don’t think I’ve ever had five in there,’’ Cutler chimed.

Jokes aside, the battle to be Cutler’s backup intensified Tuesday on the first day of Bears minicamp, with Jordan Palmer joining Jimmy Clausen, Jerrod Johnson and David Fales in team drills.

Palmer was a spectator during the last two weeks of organized team activities because of a strained chest muscle and shoulder.

‘‘Not too much [rust],’’ he said. ‘‘It was just really good to get back with the guys.’’

What makes the competition compelling is who gets cut after minicamp. Fales is safe because he was drafted. That leaves Palmer, Clausen and Johnson vying for one spot.

Bringing five quarterbacks to training camp is a rarity. Trestman couldn’t recall a previous example.

‘‘Not in the times I’ve coached the position,’’ he said. ‘‘These next two days are certainly critical.’’

A hasty decision isn’t coming, though. Trestman indicated it could be made right before camp.

“We’ve got four guys that are really competing hard and all have the requisite skill set to play in the National Football League,” Trestman said.

The arrival of Clausen, a second-round pick in 2010 with 10 career starts with the Carolina Panthers, has put Palmer and Johnson in precarious spots. Cutler seemed to suggest Clausen’s days in a Bears uniform could last past minicamp, saying he liked him at Notre Dame.

‘‘He was in a tough situation out there in Carolina,” Cutler said. “[The] offensive line was pretty rough. He was getting hit a lot. The system turned over on him.

‘‘He’s a little bit humbled going through the experience of being on the streets and getting picked up again. He’s got a good attitude.’’

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