Chicago Bears: David Fales

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Marc Trestman benched starting quarterback Jay Cutler in favor of backup Jimmy Clausen for Sunday's 20-14 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Then mysterious circumstances -- the team's announcement that Clausen was ruled out after suffering a concussion Sunday for which delayed symptoms surfaced Monday -- called for Trestman to go back to Cutler for the season finale at Minnesota. Trestman mentioned that Cutler gives the Bears the best chance to win, which is absolutely true. But if Cutler's future is truly as murky as the team's recent actions indicate, why risk getting the quarterback hurt, which would diminish his trade value while potentially making the Bears liable for $10 million of the quarterback's $16 million base salary for 2016 if he's still on the roster on the third day of the 2015 league year (March 12)?

Remember, you can't move an injured player.

Cutler said all the right things last week in the wake of the benching. But from this vantage point, Trestman made a move in benching Cutler that he can't undo. In what appeared to be a desperate attempt to keep his job, Trestman damaged the relationship with Cutler. Likely forever.

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen
Joe Sargent/Getty ImagesIn a questionable move, Jay Cutler will start in the Bears' Week 17 game at Minnesota on Sunday.
So Trestman's decision to go back to Cutler makes little sense, given there's absolutely nothing left for the Bears to play for Sunday in Minnesota.

Even receiver Brandon Marshall admitted Monday during his radio show on ESPN 1000 he's "sure there's some bitterness there or something there," and that Cutler coming back "is playing with your emotions a little bit."

Cutler's salary guarantees make it difficult enough to trade the quarterback because any franchise grabbing him would basically be forced to make a two-year commitment. So the quarterback going down with an injury in a meaningless game would only increase the difficulty the Bears already face this offseason, if the plan truly is to move Cutler.

Trestman insisted the relationship with the quarterback isn't strained. But even if that's truly the case, it's still bad business to play Cutler against the Vikings. Besides, why not give rookie David Fales a chance to showcase his skills?

"Jay's comments to the media were very similar to mine. We didn't practice together, in terms of what we were going to say. I said very specifically that I believe that Jay can work his way out of this," Trestman said. "And I've enjoyed coaching him and working with him. And we had dialogue last week. And we worked together last week. It was a tough week on him. I empathize with him on that. But we're moving forward, both with the idea that we've worked together for a long time and that hasn't changed."

What has changed is the functionality in the Chicago Bears' organization. That, certainly needs to change.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jimmy Clausen spent extra time after Friday’s practice working through plays with the receiving corps and running back Matt Forte in preparation for Sunday’s matchup against the Detroit Lions, but coach Marc Trestman said the new starter at quarterback will enter the contest with a scaled-back game plan.

Clausen
While Clausen and rookie David Fales took in the extra work at Halas Hall, recently benched quarterback Jay Cutler was conspicuously absent despite saying Thursday he planned to help the new starter as much as possible.

“With the limited practice day, we’ve gotten a lot extra work done with these guys,” Trestman said. “They’ve put in some extra time to make sure everybody’s in the right spot and knows where to go. [The Bears will utilize] probably not the quantity of plays [usually called with Cutler under center] because we haven’t had an opportunity to rep them with [Clausen] throughout the year.”

A former second-round pick, Clausen receives his first NFL start on Sunday since 2010, when the quarterback finished with a 1-9 record as a Carolina Panther while generating the lowest season-ending QBR (11.0) for a qualified quarterback in any season for which the statistic has been tracked.

In Clausen’s 10 starts in 2010, the quarterback threw for three touchdowns and nine interceptions.

“This is a very businesslike team,” Trestman said when asked how the team is handling the change at quarterback. “They go back to work, and they’ve done the things they’ve done each and every day after wins and after losses. Quite frankly, that’s how they responded: in a very consistent manner. I can’t speak for anybody else. We’ve made a change. Jimmy is going to play. I know he’ll give his best effort. I know each and every guy is playing to win the game. That’s how we look at it.”

Interestingly, Cutler didn’t stay after practice Friday to work with Clausen, while Fales did. Trestman said Cutler will serve as the No. 2 quarterback, while also divulging Fales won’t be active for Sunday’s matchup against the Lions.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears promoted rookie quarterback David Fales from the practice squad to the active roster on Saturday, and moved linebacker Darryl Sharpton to the injured reserve because of a hamstring injury.

A sixth-round pick in 204, Fales spent 13 weeks on Chicago’s practice squad prior to Saturday’s promotion. In two seasons at San Jose State, Fales started 25 games, connecting on 68.1 percent of his throws for 66 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.

"I still have to talk to my agent a little bit more, but there was some interest from other teams," Fales said. "So they went ahead and moved me up."

Sharpton signed with the Bears on Sept. 25 and made his first start with the team during its Oct. 12 win against the Atlanta Falcons. Sharpton posted 10 tackles and broke up two passes in his Bears debut, before leading the team with 11 tackles the next week in a loss against the Miami Dolphins.

Sources: Hayden, Fales, Fiammetta released

September, 13, 2014
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CHICAGO -- A rash of injuries on the offensive line and at wide receiver prompted the Chicago Bears to make a handful of roster moves in advance of Sunday night’s road game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Sources confirmed the Bears waived quarterback David Fales and released veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden and veteran fullback Tony Fiammetta.

The Bears announced following Friday’s practice that Fales (shoulder) and Fiammetta (hamstring) had been officially ruled out for Week 2.

Hayden was a healthy inactive in Chicago's 23-20 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills in the season opener.

The expectation is the Bears will look to fill some of the open roster spots off the practice squad. With Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) questionable, and Josh Morgan (groin) doubtful, the Bears could choose to promote one, or more, of their current practice squad wide receivers: Josh Bellamy, Greg Herd, Chris Williams and Rashad Ross. Practice squad center/guard Taylor Boggs is a candidate to help with depth on the offensive line after starters Roberto Garza (high-ankle sprain) and Matt Slauson (high-ankle sprain) were both declared out for the 49ers game.

FB Fiammetta (hamstring) questionable

September, 5, 2014
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears fullback Tony Fiammetta (hamstring) was limited in practice on Friday and listed as questionable for the regular-season opener versus the Buffalo Bills, the team announced.

 A five-year NFL veteran, Fiammetta appeared in 16 games (seven starts) for the Bears last season, catching four balls out of the backfield for 57 yards. The 6-foot, 250 pound fullback helped block for Pro Bowl tailback Matt Forte, who rushed for a career-high 1,339 yards in 2013.

Safety Chris Conte (concussion) and offensive lineman Brian de la Puente (knee) are probable to face the Bills, after both practiced without restrictions on Friday.

Conte is expected to play significant snaps at safety in Week 1, despite sitting out the entire offseason program and the bulk of training camp.

No. 3 quarterback David Fales remains out with a shoulder injury he sustained in the preseason finale in Cleveland.

Chris Conte cleared for season opener

September, 4, 2014
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Safety Chris Conte received medical clearance to return from a concussion he suffered on Aug. 22, and is expected to play Sunday when the Chicago Bears kick off the regular season against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field.

Conte practiced without restrictions on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Bears head coach Marc Trestman revealed the team planned to use a rotation at the safety position in Week 1 between Conte, Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray. Mundy and McCray will be asked to additionally contribute on special teams, where both players have excelled at during their respective NFL careers. Trestman did not announce the starting safeties for the Bills game. That decision may come on Friday.

“I’m excited,” Conte said. “It was a good little warm-up in [the third preseason game in] Seattle and now it’s the real deal. I know I’m excited and the rest of my teammates are excited too.

“I’ve heard that there is going to be a rotation going, so however that works and whenever I get an opportunity, I need to make the most out of it.”

Conte is looking to recover from a rocky 2013 campaign, which was exasperated by a porous defensive line that finished dead last in rushing yards allowed per game. (161.4). The line has since been revamped.

“I don’t plan on having a lot of support [from the fans]. That’s for sure,” Conte said. “But I’m going to go out there and play football. That’s what my job is, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

One area to monitor on Sunday is Conte’s conditioning. The safety missed the entire offseason program and the first couple of weeks of training camp because of offseason surgery. Conte did return to face the Seahawks, but the concussion he sustained at Century Link Field forced him back off the practice field the following week. Conte was officially listed as having limited practice participation on Monday and Wednesday.

Conte’s lack of preseason reps is one reason Trestman wants all three safeties prepared to play.

“We’ll see where Conte is as the game moves along,” Trestman said. “We feel good about the fact we have guys we can move in there. That’s kind of the approach we are going to take. It would be that way with anybody who is coming off this type of situation; who hadn’t had a lot of training camp.”

In other injury news, fullback Tony Fiammetta (hamstring) had limited participation on Thursday, but offensive lineman Brian de la Puente (knee) had full participation, according to the Bears’ official injury report. Quarterback David Fales has been ruled out with a sore shoulder.

Conte, de la Puente, Fiammetta limited

September, 3, 2014
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte (concussion), center Brian de la Puente (knee) and fullback Tony Fiammetta (hamstring) all practiced on a limited basis Wednesday as the team started to install its game plan for the regular-season opener this weekend against the Buffalo Bills.

The Bears ruled out No. 3 quarterback David Fales due to a shoulder injury he suffered last week in the preseason finale in Cleveland.

Conte is expected to receive medical clearance to face the Bills later in the week.

Safety Ryan Mundy practiced with a large bandage on his forehead after having 15 stitches removed Monday. Mundy sustained a deep laceration to his forehead in the third week of the preseason and for some time was unable to wear a helmet.

"My head is good enough for me to practice," Mundy said. "I got my stitches out Monday morning. Fifteen [stitches]. It's a minor setback, but I feel good out there, and I'm preparing to play on Sunday.

"I've just got to make sure [the wound] is covered up. I'm really trying to have as little contact as I possibly can right now to give it time to heal. But the doctors said it looks good."

Mundy said he switched to a Riddell brand of helmets in the wake of the injury.

Briggs excused, Conte limited in practice

September, 1, 2014
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears veteran linebacker Lance Briggs was excused from the first regular season practice by coach Marc Trestman, who said Briggs cleared the absence with him.

Trestman declined to elaborate on Briggs’ whereabouts, but the linebacker is scheduled to open up a new restaurant Monday in his hometown of Elk Grove, California.

Briggs
“I had communication with him three weeks ago about it,” Trestman said. “We talked about it. And I excused him for personal reasons. So this is not something that happened yesterday or the day before. He contacted me a couple weeks ago and I said, ‘Yeah, you can go.’ That was it.

“I’m not going to speak for him with what he’s doing today. I can tell you that I excused him and that this is something that now took place a long time ago. Where he’s gone is between him and the reasons that he had to go. But it was good by me.”

Minus Briggs, wide receiver Marquess Wilson and quarterback David Fales (shoulder), the Bears had a full roster on the practice field Monday, including safety Chris Conte who participated on a limited basis.

However, Conte has yet to be fully cleared to return from the concussion he suffered in the third preseason game on Aug. 22. That leaves the starting safety combination still somewhat of a mystery heading into Sunday’s Week 1 game versus the Buffalo Bills, although Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray spent the bulk of the summer working together on the first-team.

“I think we’re going to still wait and see [on safety],” Trestman said. “We’re rotating the guys around. And we’ll talk more about that on Wednesday. And we’ll get them started in the right direction. I’d just rather wait another day-and-a-half. But we’ve got four guys that we moved around. Chris got work today, so we have to see where he is as well going into Wednesday’s practice.”

The Bears are off on Tuesday. The first official injury report of the regular season is due on Wednesday.

CLEVELAND -- Here are five things we learned in the first half of the Chicago Bears’ preseason finale versus the Browns.

1. 53-man roster mostly set before game: The Bears offered up a fairly complete picture of the final roster when they decided to sit numerous reserve players like: Josh Morgan, Ka’Deem Carey, Brock Vereen and Michael Spurlock. Unless the Bears find better alternatives over the weekend; all four appear to be in decent shape as the final cut date looms on Saturday. However, the decision to rest Carey and Vereen is somewhat curious. Outside of their draft status as fourth-round picks, neither did much to stand out over the summer. And no, Shea McClellin was never going to be cut. The Bears have not abandoned hope of salvaging the career of the former first-round draft choice.

2. David Fales knows the offense: Fales lacks ideal arm strength, but he does come across as a smart quarterback who understands where the ball is supposed to go. He did a decent job under intense pressure, and showed serious courage by throwing the ball deep on several occasions. The Bears are probably better off keeping only two quarterbacks on the active roster, but Fales showed enough smarts in the preseason to warrant a spot on the practice squad, if he clears waivers as expected.

3. Santonio Holmes can help Bears: Holmes proved he still has some juice left when he broke a tackle to score a 32-yard touchdown, followed by a 30-yard punt return. Granted, Holmes accomplished this against Cleveland backups, but he made the most of the opportunities presented to him. Holmes has too much experience to let walk away. Josh Bellamy had himself a solid first half with two catches for 43 yards in the opening quarter, but Holmes seems a smart choice to be the No. 4 wideout behind Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Morgan, with Spurlock also in the mix. We’ll see how/if Marquess Wilson’s injury complicates the situation when it boils down to determining the 53.

4. FirstEnergy video screens a nice touch: The Browns installed two giant video screens in the upper decks behind each end zone, a move that greatly enhances the in-stadium experience in Cleveland. The Bears need to strongly consider adding similar technology at Soldier Field, because the current video setup is below average for a stadium built in the last 11 years. The fans would love it. And it opens up tons of marketing and sales opportunities for the club. That’s a win-win for everybody involved.

5. Browns took it seriously: Cleveland needed starting quarterback Brian Hoyer to orchestrate a touchdown drive. The Browns are desperate for good vibes heading into Week 1. We all know Cleveland will probably stink again, but this is a franchise that is trying to sell hope to its tortured fan base. They call this place the “Factory of Sadness” for a reason. But the home fans actually seemed upbeat after the first 30 minutes, especially when Johnny Manziel fired a touchdown pass. Mission accomplished for the Browns.

Bears rest starters in preseason finale

August, 28, 2014
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CLEVELAND -- The Chicago Bears are taking a conservative approach to the preseason finale.

With the regular season opener 10 days away, the Bears appear to be resting all of their starters and several key reserves in the fourth preseason games against the Cleveland Browns.

The Bears made no official announcement except that rookie David Fales will start at quarterback in place of Jay Cutler, but nearly every member of the first-team offense and defense participated in pregame warm-ups without pads or helmets.

That list of players included: linebackers Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin, and right tackle Jordan Mills, who missed the first three preseason games with a foot injury.

Even certain backups seem to be getting the night off.

Wide receiver Josh Morgan, running back Ka'Deem Carey, wide receiver Micheal Spurlock, defensive end Trevor Scott and defensive tackle Ego Ferguson wore baseball caps instead of helmets while teammates went through pregame drills.

Safety Chris Conte (concussion) made the trip to Cleveland, but is not expected to play.

However, veteran guard Eben Britton is scheduled to make his preseason debut.

The Bears must reduce their roster from 75 to 53 by Saturday afternoon.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Having played in the background the majority of the preseason as the No. 3 quarterback, rookie sixth-round pick David Fales preps for his most significant action to date as the Chicago Bears plan to play him the entire preseason finale Thursday against the Cleveland Browns.

[+] EnlargeDavid Fales
Stephen Brashear/AP PhotoQB David Fales will get the chance to showcase his skills in the Bears' preseason finale at Cleveland.
Fales played sparingly in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, but hasn't seen action since. So Thursday's game at Cleveland presents the perfect opportunity for Fales to earn a spot on the 53-man roster as opposed to being waived and later brought back to the practice squad.

"Fales, he's gonna start the game and we'll see where it goes," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "I'd like to see him play a lot of the game. I just wanted to get David in a position where he was getting [in] on the [preparation for the] Browns and was really taking some time to prepare for this on really what is a short week for us."

Fales completed five of his seven throws for 68 yards against the Eagles, playing mostly mop-up duty in the fourth quarter. Fales tossed an interception in the game, but also led the team on a long drive that resulted in a field goal.

Fales said he's "definitely excited" for the chance to start at Cleveland. If Fales fails to impress enough to land a spot on the 53-man roster, he could wind up on Chicago's practice squad if he isn't snatched up by another team during the waiver process.

Despite lacking somewhat in arm strength, Fales makes up for that deficiency with strong anticipation skills. He possesses limited mobility, but Fales is courageous enough to stand in the pocket and deliver under pressure.

Entering the draft, Fales projected as an ideal fit for the West Coast offense, which is what the Bears currently utilize.

Fales was the first quarterback drafted by the Bears since 2011. He started in all 45 games he played in at San Jose State, hitting on 65.9 percent of his passes for 12,727 yards, 101 touchdowns and 35 interceptions.

Palmer, Clausen to battle for No. 2 QB

July, 23, 2014
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Jordan Palmer, 30, showed the Chicago Bears' coaching staff enough in the offseason program to enter training camp as the No. 2 quarterback, but Palmer's spot on the roster is far from secure.

Palmer
Clausen
The most immediate threat to Palmer appears to be former Notre Dame standout and 2010 Carolina Panthers second-round draft choice Jimmy Clausen. Clausen was a late addition to the offseason roster, but he clearly impressed the coaching staff at the tail end of organized team activities and during the veteran minicamp after signing a one-year deal with the Bears on June 5. The Bears also spent a sixth-round draft choice on quarterback David Fales, who passed for 8,382 yards and 66 touchdowns in two seasons at San Jose State.

"Right now, Jordan Palmer has the first shot at being No. 2, [but] it's a competition," Bears head coach Marc Trestman said on Wednesday. "There are three guys who are up for the No. 2, but it's going to start with Jordan. We feel very good about Jimmy and we felt very good about David's performances as well. So we're going to work it like that. We're going to give Jordan the first shot. He's been here the longest. Jimmy Clausen has the most experience so we're going to work him in there, and we're going to provide David with opportunities throughout camp to play and perform not just in practice, but in games.

"It'll be an on-going process [that takes place] day-to-day. We don't have to make a decision for quite some time and we'll get a chance to see a lot of plays of practice and certainly in the preseason games as well."

Bears general manager Phil Emery described Clausen as having "a chip on his shoulder" and "eager to prove people wrong" after the quarterback started just 10 games for Carolina from 2010-13.

Palmer has appeared in only four regular-season games (zero starts) since 2008 with the Cincinnati Bengals, completing 10-of-15 passes for 59 yards and two interceptions.

Finding a serviceable No. 2 quarterback is essential for the Bears after injuries have forced incumbent starter Jay Cutler to miss 12 games over the past three seasons. Josh McCown thrived in the backup role in 2013, but the veteran signed a lucrative contract in the offseason to be the new starting quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"It's going to be interesting," Cutler said of the battle for No. 2. "There's not going to be a lot of reps for them. I think a lot of it is going to play out in the preseason games. Because I'm going to get a lot of the reps in camp. Jordan, he's been around a long time, his older brother, he's been able to watch him a lot. Jimmy, he's played in big games at Notre Dame and kind of got the pedigree. He's a high-round pick; he was in a tough position in Carolina. They're both very hungry, they've both worked extremely hard this offseason putting in the time mentally, which is probably more important for them right now, just trying to figure out the playbook so they can go to the line of scrimmage and be fluent in what they want to do. We'll see how it goes."
With veteran minicamp coming to a close on Jun. 19, the Chicago Bears receive a much-needed break to recharge before the start of training camp in July at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.

During the team’s time of inactivity, we will take a position-by-position look at some of the expected training camp battles and dark horses to make the team, starting with the offense:

Overview: In an attempt to play through an entire regular season for the first time since 2009, Jay Cutler bulked up and added strength in the offseason, according to Bears coach Marc Trestman. That probably needed to happen considering the murky situation behind Cutler on the depth chart.

[+] EnlargeJordan Palmer
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastJordan Palmer will battle Jimmy Clausen to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Jay Cutler.
The Bears took four potential backups to Cutler into minicamp -- Jordan Palmer, Jimmy Clausen, Jerrod Johnson (who has been released) and rookie David Fales. The group, collectively, has completed a total of 167 passes in the regular season, with the bulk of that coming from Clausen (157).

Makes you miss Josh McCown, right?

Battle to watch: Palmer will go into camp as the front-runner to win the backup job, but Clausen should push him if he picks up Chicago’s offense quickly enough. Prior to the team’s Jun. 7 acquisition of Clausen, it appeared Fales -- a sixth-round pick -- posed the most significant threat to Palmer in the competition for the No. 2 job. Now, the Bears will likely try to bring along Fales slowly, and give his repetitions to Clausen, who has more experience than Palmer as a starter in the NFL. So look for Clausen and Palmer to slug it out for the No. 2 job, while Johnson and Fales compete for the No. 3 spot.

“If you’re a free agent, you’re going to be thrown into a situation where you have to learn faster to get up to speed so you can compete. That’s a big challenge for me,” Clausen said. “The quarterbacks are helping me out a lot. The coaching staff is doing a great job helping me, just trying to get me up to speed as soon as possible.”

Dark horse: The Bears invested $114,224 in Fales in the form of a signing bonus, so they might feel inclined to keep him over Johnson. But don’ count out Johnson, who in 2011, was the No. 1 overall pick of the defunct UFL.

Before Johnny Manziel tore it up at Texas A&M, Johnson was the school’s career leader in total offense (8,888 yards) and passing yards (8,011). But Johnson entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles, and hasn’t been able to stick with a team. Johnson has spent time with the Eagles, Steelers and Seahawks, but many don’t realize that a pretty significant shoulder injury at A&M has sort of derailed his career.

“He struggled as a senior at A&M,” Bears general manager Phil Emery said last September. “There were a lot of rumors that he was injured. Talking to him, he was. He’s undergone surgery. He basically relearned to throw the ball. He was impressive out there in terms of his accuracy and the velocity that he had. He has foot movement, and he’s 6-foot-5, 240 pounds. He’s a very engaging young man with a lot of intelligence.”

Who makes the cut: The Bears will likely keep only three quarterbacks on the active roster, which means Cutler, Clausen -- provided he performs in the preseason -- and Palmer would likely make the cut with the club keeping Fales on the practice squad. Johnson is an intriguing talent, but he will likely fall victim to the numbers game.

Observations: Bears to trim a QB?

June, 17, 2014
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jordan Palmer's return from a minor strain to his right throwing shoulder did little to clear up the Bears' fuzzy picture at the backup quarterback position.

Limited by the injury the last two weeks of organized team activities (OTAs), Palmer had full participation in the Bears' first of three mandatory minicamp workouts held on Tuesday, but he seemed to struggle with his accuracy at times, although Palmer reported no issues with his shoulder when he spoke with reporters after the practice.

"I felt great," Palmer said. "It was good to be back in the mix. I thought we had a pretty good practice today. [There wasn't] too much [rust]. It's still football. We're still wearing shorts and T-shirts, but it was good to be back out there with the guys."

[+] EnlargeJimmy Clausen
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhWith the addition of Jimmy Clausen, the Bears now have quarterbacks under contract.
Meantime, newcomer Jimmy Clausen made the most of his limited reps, and even spent the end of practice occasionally working in with Palmer and starter Jay Cutler, while developmental quarterbacks David Fales and Jerrod Johnson took turns running the scout team offense on the other side of the field.

Clausen signed a one-year deal with the Bears on June 7.

"I watched Jimmy when he was at Notre Dame," Cutler said. "Liked him. He was in a tough situation out there in Carolina. Offensive line was pretty rough; he was getting hit a lot. The system turned over on him. He throws the ball well. I didn't have any input on bringing him here, though. Once he did get here, though, he was in the quarterback room over the weekend three straight days grinding way, trying to figure out this offense. He was peppering me and David Fales, [quarterbacks coach] Matt Cavanaugh, all questions. So he's been working hard. 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. He's got a good attitude. Training camp and preseason, we'll see how it works out."

Clausen's first task is sticking on the roster long enough to report to training camp with the club on July 24. But the odds of that happening seem promising. However, with five quarterbacks currently under contract, the Bears are likely to jettison at least one reserve quarterback in the coming weeks.

"I don't know if that's ever happened [going to camp with five quarterbacks], not in the times I've coached the position," Bears head coach Marc Trestman said. "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. We'll make that decision, and we don't even have to make that decision this week, we'll make it before the start of 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."

Here are other observations from the Bears' opening minicamp practice:

• The Bears rested starting right tackle Jordan Mills (foot) after the second-year offensive lineman returned from offseason surgery in May to participate in OTAs. Mills called his absence "precautionary," but wasn't sure if he'd practice on Wednesday or Thursday before the team breaks for the summer.

"It's just a little precaution, nothing major," Mills said. "I'm 100 percent. I was kind of mad I couldn't go out there and practice today with them but the trainers know best. They just wanted to rest my foot a little bit.

• Safety Chris Conte, linebacker Khaseem Greene and defensive tackle Will Sutton were all excused for "family reasons" according to Trestman. Matt Slauson (shoulder) was present but continued to sit out. Safety Craig Steltz took part in certain individual drills as he recovers from an offseason leg issue.

• Veteran Kelvin Hayden was the Bears' fourth cornerback when the team went to its dime package on defense.

• Trestman called D.J. Williams "the lead dog" at middle linebacker, but 2013 second-round pick Jon Bostic took reps with the first team at linebacker in the nickel package, and could definitely still challenge for the open outside linebacker spot if Williams manages to stay healthy and solidifies the middle in the club's base defense.

• Safety Ryan Mundy dropped an easy pick when a Cutler pass sailed off its mark close to the right hash.

• Linebackers Jerry Franklin and Christian Jones saw action with the No. 2 group. Jones, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Florida State, has opened some eyes in the offseason program.

• With Mills out, Michael Ola spent time at right tackle with the starters. Brian de la Puente continued to take reps at left guard.

• Converted running back Jordan Lynch ran a wheel route out of the backfield and caught a diving touchdown pass from Johnson late in the session.

• Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller broke up a pair of passes in team drills.

• Brandon Marshall burned Tim Jennings for a long touchdown reception. On the play, the Bears had speedster Chris Williams lined up in the slot.

• The Bears invited numerous NFL player agents to Halas Hall on Tuesday to watch practice inside the Walter Payton Center. Agents are frequently spotted catching up with their clients at training camp, but rarely are large groups of agents permitted to observe a workout held at the team's facility.

Observations: Vereen challenging at FS

June, 11, 2014
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Based on the organized team activities (OTA) portion of the Chicago Bears' offseason program, rookie fourth-round pick Brock Vereen looks to be a serious contender to earn a permanent place in the starting lineup.

[+] EnlargeBrock Vereen
Nam Y. Huh/AP PhotoBears safety Brock Vereen, who participated in the team's rookie minicamp in May, is adjusting to playing in the NFL.
Vereen took all the first-team reps at safety alongside free-agent signee Ryan Mundy on Wednesday, as veterans Chris Conte and Craig Steltz continue to be sidelined due to injuries. M.D. Jennings and Danny McCray handled the reps on the second team.

"I wouldn't say [I'm] shocked [by the starters reps], but I know nothing is set," Vereen said. "I'm just coming in and working hard. If that gets me on the field, then so be it.

"It's really starting to slow down for me out there. Now I'm able to react rather than to have to think about it."

Vereen played multiple defensive back positions in college for Minnesota, but appears best suited to line up at free safety in the NFL. Mundy is built like a strong safety at 6-foot-1, 209 pounds, but the safety spots are generally viewed as interchangeable.

Here are other observations from Wednesday's OTA, the final session open to the media:

• With Matt Slauson still recovering from shoulder surgery, Brian de la Puente worked with the starters at left guard. Many consider de la Puente to be the heir apparent to Roberto Garza at center, although the former New Orleans Saints starter signed only a one-year contract with the Bears in the offseason.

• Cornerback Charles Tillman and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff were present this week after being absent from last week's open OTA to the media.

• The Bears' trio of linebackers in their base defense during the majority of team drills consisted of D.J. Williams (MLB), Lance Briggs (WLB) and Shea McClellin (SLB). However, both Williams and McClellin came off the field in the nickel package in favor of Jon Bostic.

• Rookie first-round draft choice Kyle Fuller continued to run with the No. 1's in nickel as Tim Jennings mainly bumped inside to cover the slot with Tillman at the opposite cornerback spot.

Jay Cutler connected with Brandon Marshall and Marquess Wilson in the end zone on back-to-back passes during a red zone drill. Marshall did have a couple drops over the course of the afternoon.

• Marshall did return a punt at one point on Wednesday.

• Reserve quarterback Jerrod Johnson saw action on special teams when he lined up as one of the two cornerbacks tasked with slowing down the gunner on punt return. Hard to remember a quarterback wearing the orange "off-limits" jersey ever participating on special teams before. But Johnson held up just fine during the drill and flashed some impressive speed trailing the gunner down the field.

• New quarterback Jimmy Clausen received fewer reps than Johnson and rookie David Fales, but the former Carolina Panther had some zip on the ball and seemed to have a decent understanding of the offense whenever he went under center.

• The Bears have one final OTA scheduled for Thursday in advance of the club's three-day veteran minicamp next week. Cutler is expected to meet the media next Tuesday for the first time since the start of the offseason in April.

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