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Strong night for Bears QBs in preseason opening win

Updated: August 9, 2014 12:45AM



The fight to be the Bears’ backup quarterback and Jay Cutler’s right-hand man wasn’t won by Jordan Palmer or Jimmy Clausen on Friday night at Soldier Field.

But both looked better than the beloved player they’re competing to replace.

In his debut as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting quarterback, Josh McCown was 2-for-4 for 20 yards with two sacks, an interception, a lost fumble and a 25.0 passer rating in limited work against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday. That’s not what Palmer and Clausen are trying to replace.

In their limited action against the Philadelphia Eagles, Palmer and Clausen fared much better than their predecessor in the Bears’ ­34-28 victory.

Clausen, the former Notre Dame star and Carolina ­Panthers starter, stole the show in the second half, turning the Bears’ 21-14 halftime deficit into a 31-28 lead in the third quarter.

Everything that stood out about Clausen during training-camp practices — his ­understanding of coach Marc Trestman’s offense, his quick reads and an arm that still is full of zip — was on display in his only quarter of action.

Clausen was 7-for-13 for 150 yards with two touchdowns and a 134.6 passer rating in the third quarter. He checked to the right play and hit speedster Chris Williams in stride for a 73-yard touchdown. He later found a wide-open Micheal Spurlock for a 22-yard score.

“Overall, it was a good day,” Clausen said. “I felt comfortable with the offense. Obviously, it was just another day, another step to getting better every single day. It’s preseason. It was good to get out there and get hit a little bit.”

Palmer wasn’t completely outdone by Clausen. After all, Palmer was the one who took Cutler’s place late in the first quarter. Palmer completed 8 of 11 passes for 104 yards and a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Miller with 1:07 left in the first half.

The best aspect of Palmer’s performance was his ability to overcome an uninspiring start, which was highlighted by safety Nate Allen’s interception. He also was sacked by defensive end Vinny Curry to open the second quarter.

“I felt good,” Palmer said. “I got to see a little bit of everything, a little bit of pressure, a little bit of adversity. I thought we played well.

“It was a great night because we got to see a lot of different looks. They run a different defense than the Chicago Bears run, and we’ve been the Chicago Bears for two weeks now.

“It was great to be able … to run our offense and get a little bit of everything going.”

As a group, the top three quarterbacks did very well, connecting on 24 of 37 passes for 339 yards, four touchdowns and a 119.1 passer rating in three quarters. Rookie David Fales was under center in the fourth quarter.

“It’s funny to see those stats on the board,” Clausen said. “I really didn’t know we had that much offense until the end of the game. It was a good day.”

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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