LAKE FOREST — Marc Trestman isn’t sure he’s ever brought five quarterbacks to training camp in his coaching career, which shines the spotlight in the next 48 hours on Jordan Palmer, Jimmy Clausen, Jerrod Johnson and David Fales.
“These next two days are certainly critical, we’ve got to continue to analyze the situation. It would be hard to, we need legs at camp, but we’ll see,” Trestman said Tuesday following the first day of the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp. He said a roster decision, though, could take place at any time before training camp.
“I think we’ve got five viable guys. You take Jay out of it and we’ve got four guys that are really competing hard and all have the requisite skill set to play in the National Football League, we’ve just got to continue to watch it and see how it unfolds,” he said.
Palmer’s injured pec kept him out of some OTA team work last week, and he seemed to still be somewhat limited on Tuesday. Trestman said Palmer “appears to be in a pretty good place. We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”
That has helped open the door for Clausen.
“Jimmy Clausen has come in and absorbed a lot of the offense in a short period of time. I wouldn’t say that he has it mastered by any means at this point. He has a long way to go in that fashion,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “For him, it’s basically taking a lot of our plays and learning Spanish because it’s a new terminology to run plays that he knows from different teams. As he continues to translate what our words mean by pictures, and then putting them together, the quicker he’ll learn.”
Jay Cutler said Clausen is asking lots of questions in the quarterback room to help learn the offense.
“I think he likes the opportunity he has here. He’s a little bit humbled going through the experience of being on the streets and getting picked up again,” Cutler said. “He’s got a good attitude. Training camp and preseason, we’ll see how it works out.”
Cutler and the rest of the Bears team (and fans) were spoiled last year by the play of Josh McCown. Cutler discussed for himself, working to be more durable, but he has missed time in recent seasons and was asked about the important qualities for a No. 2 quarterback.
“All those guys in the room understand what the role is as a backup. Sometimes you have to be a go-between guy,” he said. “Sometimes you have to be a guy that says, ‘Hey, you’re doing it wrong. This guy’s open. You messed it up.’ Sometimes you’ve just got to let the starter vent and just listen to him moan and go on about stuff.
“But you also have got to be ready to go, so he’s got to spend some extra time figuring out what happens if he goes in because he’s not going to get the reps. It’s a tough position. It’s a really hard position to be in.”
Passes defensed: A few defensive backs made some nice plays on the ball during Tuesday’s session. Kyle Fuller broke up a sideline pass intended for Alshon Jeffery, rookie safety Marcus Trice had one of the better plays of the day on a ball thrown to tight end Zach Miller and Kelvin Hayden broke up a pass while covering Martellus Bennett. Linebacker Jon Bostic also got his hands on a pass from Jordan Palmer over the seam and Ryan Mundy dropped a would-be interception.
O-line rotations: With Jordan Mills and Matt Slauson out, and Kyle Long not playing in team drills, we saw Brian de la Puente, James Brown and Taylor Boggs work at the guard positions with the first-team offense, as Eben Britton played right tackle.
Increased volume: Trestman pumped in crowd noise at practice, noting how the Bears have some tough early tests (in San Francisco’s new stadium in Week Two followed by the Meadowlands on Monday Night Football in Week Three). It was part of a practice that he said was designed more like a training-camp regiment.
Quick hits: Jordan Lynch made an impressive catch down the sideline in team drills. … The Bears ended the practice working on their hurry-up, which concluded on a Cutler to Jeffery touchdown on a slant pattern. … Rookie Ego Ferguson got into the backfield quickly off the snap, beating James Brown. … Clausen found a sliding Chris Williams behind the defense for a big gain. ... The Bears hosted four workout players at the practice.