BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Players and coaches will seldom assign greater significance to one play or one game than another. If for no other reason, it implies somehow that ones not mentioned are somehow less important.
So for Jimmy Clausen, theoretically this is just another preseason, the fifth since he was the No. 2 pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2010. But it really isn’t.
Clausen was on the shelf after losing 2013 to injury and the NFL is nothing if not out of sight, out of mind. So Friday night against the Philadelphia Eagles is not only the next major step in his competition with Jordan Palmer for the No. 2 quarterback job in Chicago, but a potential referendum on Clausen for others who will be watching.
“Every day’s a job interview whether it’s on the practice field here for the Chicago Bears or going out in preseason games for 31 other teams,” Clausen said. “It’s a job interview each and every day and that’s how you have to approach it.”
So far Clausen has “interviewed” well. He started well after Palmer and even after rookie David Fales in the Bears system, signing late into the minicamp/OTA cycle. He has played himself squarely into position to win a job that had appeared all but in the hands of Palmer.
Yet in spite of his lofty draft status at one time, the Bears are looking less for pyrotechnics than precision.
“Clausen’s played a lot of games in his rookie year, and we’re looking to see how he can run the offense,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “By no means are we looking for a superstar. We’re looking for a guy that can read a coverage and throw it to the correct guy, or work with the unit and make him successful.
“You’re talking about a guy … quarterbacks normally have the offseason to learn it. So Day 1, when we were putting in the base offense, he wasn’t there. So he got in late and he studied hard all summer and put himself in a position to compete, and that’s all that we’re looking for.”
The significance of Clausen’s learning curve remains to be seen. He spent four years in the Carolina system, albeit sitting behind Cam Newton two of those years and on IR last season.
Consequently he is still doing more thinking than he normally would do in a system more familiar.
“It’s kind of a hurdle that I’m still trying to get over,” Clausen conceded. “There’s a few concepts and a few routes that adjust for certain coverages that you’ve been in for the past three years. So it’s kind of breaking old habits but you’re not going to learn it overnight and it’s a process. Each day out, each practice, each game out, it’s going to get a little easier and feel a little more comfortable.”