Bears have question marks on defense
Aug 25, 2014 at 7:11p ET
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears know who's backing up starting quarterback Jay Cutler. Now they'd like to know their defense is backing up their offense.
Clausen won his roster battle when Jordan Palmer was cut Sunday, with one preseason game at Cleveland on Thursday still to play.
''Jimmy's played a lot more football in this league,'' Bears coach Marc Trestman said. ''He's younger, and I thought the competition was very close.
''But I thought at the end of the day, I think the upside for Jimmy (is) his age, his experience, and he came highly recommended from some people I trust in Carolina.''
Clausen is 26 and Palmer 30. Clausen played only in 2010 as a rookie out of Notre Dame, when he got into 13 games with 10 starts. He completed 157 of 199 throws for 1,558 yards with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. Then he watched Cam Newton come in and develop into a starter and a star.
Palmer had only 15 NFL passes to his name, none since 2010, and no starts.
''His ability to handle the adversity that he had in his first year (in Carolina), his leadership qualities - he stood up tall through a lot of tough times in Carolina and gained the respect of his teammates and the team there with the way he handled himself in a very, very difficult year,'' Trestman said of Clausen. ''So that, plus performance, plus experience, plus youth were a lot of the reasons if I can give you some content.
''It wasn't everything. Jordan, he did a heck of a job. We really did a good job, and Matt did, of giving the guys almost an equal amount of reps and opportunity. At the end of the day it really comes down to how you feel about things.''
Clausen had the disadvantage of coming in during organized team activities June 5, while Palmer had been in Chicago last year after a Cutler injury.
''I studied really hard,'' Clausen said. ''When I first got here I was playing catch up. I was playing catch up when I was back home for a few weeks getting ready for training camp. But I grasped the offense pretty well.''
Clausen feels he has developed as an NFL player by getting the chance to observe.
''One of the big things is sitting and looking back on the sidelines the past few years in Carolina, just sitting and learning really did help,'' he said. ''I didn't have that in college. I didn't have that in high school.
''Just to sit back and take a step back and look at everything, help the game slow down a little bit for me, and just learned how to play in the NFL, because it's totally different from college.''
The Bears would like to see improvement in their preseason finale in containing mobile quarterbacks. They struggled to keep Seattle's Russell Wilson from escaping the pocket, and also had problems against Jacksonville. They'll face more mobility against Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer in Cleveland, then will see mobile quarterbacks in their first four regular-season games.
''Obviously we'd like to put on a better performance than what we showed,'' linebacker D.J. Williams said. ''But you know, we looked at the film and everything is correctable.
''We do have speed on the defense. That's what the league is turning into. Two years ago it was everyone throwing it in the air and now teams are getting mobile quarterbacks. Now you've got mobile quarterbacks that can run and throw.
''So every year the defense just has to adapt to your competition.''
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker believes players need to make better decisions on the run to stop scrambling quarterbacks.
''If the quarterback does break the pocket and it becomes a scramble situation, we need to plaster (to a receiver),'' he said. ''We call it plaster in our zone or man. You just have to cover longer.
''When the quarterback gets out of the pocket, bad things happen typically.''
NOTES: Chicago released safety Craig Steltz, a six-year veteran. Safety Chris Conte missed practice Monday due to a concussion suffered against Seattle and is day to day. ... Safety Ryan Mundy suffered a head laceration in the game and missed Monday's practice. ... Starting fullback Tony Fiammetta is day to day with a hamstring.
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