- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Former Oakland Raiders No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell put together a solid showing during his tryout for the Chicago Bears on Friday at Halas Hall, according to a league source who attended the session, but it's unlikely the team will sign him to a contract.
Russell reported to the workout in the 265-pound range, according to the source, and displayed a "big arm" and "good, positive demeanor," but also showed some rust with the timing and accuracy of throws. Still, from the workout, it was apparent, according to the source, that Russell has worked diligently in recent months to get back to his playing weight of approximately 265 pounds, his weight when the Raiders drafted him.
Initially, the Bears weren't interested in Russell, and one source believed nobody in the NFL would take his comeback seriously until he lost a significant amount of weight. But with Russell having shed a reported 50 pounds in recent months, the Bears wanted to give him an opportunity.
According to the source, Russell's performance Friday was solid overall, considering his time away from pro football and the fact that he worked with a group of receivers with whom he was unfamiliar.
Still, it doesn't appear a signing is imminent. With three quarterbacks already on the roster in Jay Cutler, Josh McCown and Matt Blanchard, the Bears had considered bringing a fourth quarterback to training camp, but as recently as Tuesday, they wanted to keep the roster status quo at the position.
The team could change its thinking, but that appears unlikely at this point.
In addition to working out Russell, Palmer and Edwards, the Bears worked out veterans at multiple positions as they continue to evaluate how to fill the back end of their roster. By obtaining evaluations, the Bears will have gathered a short list of veterans they can call in the event of an injury between now and training camp.
The NFL Network reported Russell would like to sign with a team on which he can learn under a veteran quarterback. If Russell doesn't sign with an NFL team within the next 30 to 45 days, he also would be open to signing with a CFL team.
Former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia predicted on the "Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 on Wednesday that the Bears would be pleasantly surprised by Russell's demeanor and physical stature.
Garcia has worked with Russell at TEST Academy in San Diego as the quarterback started his comeback attempt, weighing in at 315 pounds back in January.
"Well, he's gonna come in looking more athletic. Even when he was heavier, he was pretty good on his feet. But he's gonna be so much better on his feet," Garcia said. "The natural abilities for him to throw the ball as people said when he was coming out of LSU -- he is impressive in that way. He does have just the natural technique. That ball comes out so smooth, so effortlessly. It's slick, it rotates. It goes the way that you would like it to go. I think more so than anything, though, it's gonna be his confidence [the Bears will see].
"Walking in with his head up, understanding from a mature standpoint where he was when he left the game four years ago, where he is today as a person. How much this means to him, I think that's one of the things that he definitely has to demonstrate. He definitely has to show that this is something that he's passionate about, that he does have that fire burning inside, that he's ready to step through those doors, blow those doors open, show that he has what it takes to get back into the league, and hopefully land that sort of roster position."
Russell hasn't played a down of football in the NFL since 2009, and won just seven of 25 starts during his career at Oakland. Russell received approximately $39 million in three seasons in Oakland, and has completed 52.1 percent of his passes for 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and a passer rating of 65.2.
In 2010, authorities charged Russell with felony possession of a controlled substance, a drink containing codeine cough syrup, after officers raided his home that July. A grand jury didn't indict the quarterback later that year on those charges.
2hEric D. Williams
1dBy Ian O'Connor