Jordan Palmer, the starter in Thursday night's preseason finale at Soldier Field, knew he wouldn't have the opportunity to throw the ball all over the yard as he competed with Trent Edwards for a possible spot as the Bears' No. 3 quarterback.
"At this point it doesn't become how many yards you throw for, how many touchdowns you throw, it becomes how do you do each series?" Palmer said. "Complete balls, move the chains and finish in the red zone."
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That's exactly what Palmer did on the Bears' second possession in an 18-16 loss to the Browns.
He completed 7 of 8 passes for 64 yards on a 69-yard TD drive that ended with a perfectly placed, back-shoulder throw that Joe Anderson caught for a 5-yard TD. Palmer, who wasn't signed until Aug. 17 after former No. 3 Matt Blanchard suffered a fractured finger on his left (non-throwing) hand, connected with four different receivers on the drive that gave the Bears a 10-0 lead.
On the Bears' next possession, Palmer hit Anderson in stride on a deep post for 37 yards, and he finished his night's work hitting 11 of 17 for 111 yards with no interceptions and a 102.8 passer rating for the first half.
"It says a lot about his preparation," coach Marc Trestman said. "He came in here, he dug in, he has learned a lot of the offense and spent a lot of time, on his own, trying to assimilate all of it. I'm happy for him that he came out and played efficiently for us."
Edwards wasn't as impressive starting the second half, although he began his stint by dropping a 50-yard bomb into the outstretched hands of rookie wide receiver Josh Lenz to set up Robbie Gould's 21-yard field goal.
Later in the third quarter Edwards' pass intended for Fendi Onobun slipped through the tight end's hands and was returned 22 yards for a TD by Browns linebacker James-Michael Johnson.
Aside from the pick, Edwards completed 4 of 6 in the third quarter for 84 yards, and he finished 10 of 17 for 135 yards with a 59.7 passer rating.
"We both knew going into this a decision was going to come, and you have to be ready whichever way it goes," Edwards said. "First and foremost I'm (peeved) that we lost. I didn't sign with this team two weeks ago to lose football games."
While Palmer and Edwards battled it out behind center, running backs Armando Allen, the incumbent, and undrafted rookie Michael Ford fought for the No. 3 job behind Matt Forte and Michael Bush.
Allen, who had missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury, carried 10 times for 39 yards. Ford picked up 48 yards on 9 rushes and caught 1 pass for 13 yards.
The decision will come down Friday.
"Personally I had a good game," Allen said, "but there were a lot of things I could have done better."
Allen has the edge on special teams coverage, but Ford had a 100-yard kickoff return earlier in the preseason.
"You never know," Ford said. "Just leave it up to the coaches and (today) I'll find out the results. I gave them all I had in practices and games. I really can't worry about it. If you give it your all, at the end of the day, you're confident."
Demoted right tackle J'Marcus Webb started in an all-backup lineup and played through the third quarter in a final attempt to prove he belongs on the 53-man roster after falling out of favor early in training camp.
It won't be a surprise if Webb is among the Bears' cuts this weekend. He didn't help his cause with false start on the first possession, which stalled a promising drive, although Gould's 52-yard field goal gave the Bears a 3-0 lead. But the late-game injury to backup Cory Brandon (left ankle) could save Webb's spot.
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