LAKE FOREST — Backup quarterbacks tend to have that coaching trait. Just look at Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, who spent 11 seasons in the NFL, but started 19 games.
Or take last year’s backup Josh McCown, who rejoined the Bears in 2012 when, at the time, he was coaching high school football, and was lauded for the extra work he did with the offense last preseason.
Jordan Palmer has attempted 15 NFL passes in five seasons, and gets the first shot to be Jay Cutler’s backup in 2014. How did he spend his offseason? Mentoring young quarterbacks, including Bears draft pick David Fales. Palmer has to balance that innate desire to coach with his own focus on winning the backup job.
“You’ve been in the league for as long as I have, your job is to help the young guys. I just did it in a different capacity,” Palmer said of his work with Fales, adding, “My job is to come in here and compete every day and take advantage of the reps I get.”
Palmer spoke with a group of reporters following the Bears’ first organized training activity (OTA) on Tuesday, following some extra post-practice work with the receivers. Palmer said he knows that he benefits from making sure his teammates are all on the same page with Marc Trestman’s offense.
“It’s huge because those are the guys that I’m going to be in there with, so I want to give everybody who is going to be in the huddle with me — and everybody who is going to be in the huddle after me — an opportunity to get lined up right, run the right play, make a play, and be able to play fast,” he said. “The biggest thing that these guys do, any team, anywhere, (when you are) putting a lot of stuff in, guys start thinking and they play slower. So my goal is have these guys playing fast, so any way that I can serve them and help, that’s what I’m going to do.”
In the preseason, Palmer will lead the second-team offense, which will at times include new wide receivers Josh Morgan and Josh Bellamy, as well as Chris Williams, Eric Weems and Terrence Toliver. Palmer knows he looks better when his receivers run the right routes and make plays in practice.
Palmer got to spend some time watching how McCown worked last season, but to help prepare for this offseason, he said he watched every rep from OTAs and minicamp last year – and he noticed that McCown practiced pretty well before he had his impressive season.
In between working with his receivers and the rest of the quarterbacks, including his mentee, Fales, Palmer knows he has work to do himself to solidify the No. 2 quarterback job to make the roster, not an unfamiliar position.
“I’m just trying to focus on every day and put together a great offseason camp and everything else will take care of itself," he said.