Bears QB hopefuls need to understand offense
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Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer says the No. 1 thing for quarterback hopefuls Trent Edwards and Jordan Palmer will be the understanding of the offense.
Recently signed quarterback Trent Edwards will not look around in the huddle when he gets into the Bears' final preseason game Thursday night at Soldier Field and say: "Big guy, cut left in front of the down marker; little dude, go deep; fat kid, stay in and block."
But Edwards, who will take over after Jordan Palmer plays the first half against the Cleveland Browns, has only been with the team for 11 days, one fewer than Palmer.
Although both are considered quick studies, neither has an encyclopedic knowledge of the offense or the personnel.
"It's hard," said Edwards, who has started 33 NFL games, including 32 for the Buffalo Bills (2007-10); he also played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Philadelphia Eagles.
"There's nothing I can do about it, though. I wish I was here six months ago and had everybody's first names down. I'm working on the numbers and working on what positions they play.
"You'd like to know guys. You'd like to know your offensive tackles and know what schools they went to and what they do in their off time, but that's not really where we're at right now.
"I'll be out there trying. I'll know a few guys, but not everybody. And you don't have to. I've been in that position before, so just go out and have some fun."
If coach Marc Trestman and his staff decide to keep three quarterbacks, Edwards or Palmer will be on the final, 53-man roster.
But last year the Bears started the season with just two quarterbacks, and they could do the same this year, going with just Jay Cutler and Josh McCown.
With few, if any, starters participating Thursday night, offensive expectations should be dialed down, especially considering the quarterbacks' minimal time in the system.
The Bears essentially have been conducting parallel practices this week. The first-team offense and defense practiced against each other, while the backups, who will get the bulk of the playing time against the Browns, prepared to play a game.
"At this point it doesn't become how many yards you throw for, (or) how many touchdowns you throw," Palmer said. "It becomes how do you do each series? Complete balls, move the chains and finish in the red zone. I feel ready to go.
"Coach (Marc) Trestman has done an unbelievable job of carving out enough time for me and Trent to get ready, while still pushing the ones forward and thinking Cincinnati (the regular-season opener).
"I feel like I've been in a very fortunate situation."
Palmer has never started an NFL game. His experience consists of playing in four games with the Cincinnati Bengals (2008-10), mostly backing up his older brother, Carson.
He played the fourth quarter last week at Oakland and completed his only pass for 5 yards.
Whatever the roster decision is, it will be based on an abbreviated on-field audition and an intense cram session in the classroom with the playbook.
"The No. 1 thing when you come into situations like this is (to) have enough of an understanding of the offense," coordinator Aaron Kromer said. "They've both worked really hard with (quarterbacks coach) Matt Cavanaugh, learning the offense and putting a game plan together that would efficiently run with very minimal reps. They've been extremely professional."
Both quarterbacks were out of football when the Bears called after former No. 3 quarterback Matt Blanchard suffered a fractured ring finger on his left hand. And both hope to ride Thursday night's performance back into the league.
"You don't know how many opportunities you're going to get and when you're going to get your last one," Palmer said. "You have to take advantage of the ones you get, and you can't control when it happens. You can only be prepared for it."
•Follow Bob's NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere, and check out his Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com/sports.
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