McCown, Palmer put time in to prepare for Packers
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Josh McCown throws during the Bears' loss at Green Bay on Dec. 25, 2011. McCown returns to Lambeau Field on Monday to see if he can even his record against the 5-2 Packers.
It's a new order and new roles for all three Bears quarterbacks.
Josh McCown was nothing short of brilliant in relief of injured Jay Cutler two weeks ago, but it will be a different experience for him as the starter Monday night against the Packers.
For openers, Green Bay has been able to game plan specifically for McCown, which Washington did not.
"Certainly they're going to watch him play, evaluate him, (determine) how they're going to rush him, blitz him (and) cover," coach Marc Trestman said. "I'm sure those decisions will be made on what they see."
It will be the 34-year-old McCown's first start since he took over the job from Caleb Hanie on Christmas Day 2011, also against the Packers and also at Lambeau Field.
"The mindset for the quarterback coming off the bench is that he's got to be ready without (practice) reps," Trestman said. "The preparation side of it is completely different. Now Josh has (had) five practices to prepare for this."
Normally in the shadows — it's just McCown's third start in six years — he's now in the spotlight. There are pluses and minuses.
"He'll be the focus of attention, so you have to deal with those issues, (but) with his age and experience in the league, I don't think it's an issue," Trestman said. "At practice, you're getting all the work."
McCown has done all he could to prepare for what he hopes will be a seamless transition.
"His work ethic is second to none," Trestman said. "He's spent every day here during this week and during the off day to try to do everything he can in his own way. A lot of it is individual study time."
That exemplary work ethic is endemic among Bears quarterbacks.
"The guys look at tape and draw their own conclusions and then we come together and talk about it and then we look at it together one more time," Trestman said. "These guys that we have here are very typical of quarterbacks in the National Football League. These guys are essentially gym rats. They're here all the time. They understand it takes a lot of work to play for 60 minutes, or three hours on a game day, and they put in the time necessary to do the job and to be efficient."
Jordan Palmer, 29, has never started a regular-season NFL game and has played in just four, the most recent nearly three years ago.
He wasted no time getting re-acclimated to the offense after he was signed following Cutler's groin injury that briefly left McCown as the Bears' only healthy quarterback.
"Every morning I got here at 6:30, (and) I left around 8 o'clock at night," said Palmer, who spent the final week of preseason with the Bears after a fractured finger sidelined then-No. 3 quarterback Matt Blanchard. "I had a nice little foundation, even though I was only out here a couple weeks. I've always hung my hat on the preparation stuff. ...
"I feel like I'm ready to go. If my job is to help Josh get ready to play in Green Bay, great. If my job is to come here and lead us to the playoffs, then I'm very, very confident in my ability to do both those."
Being able to grasp a system quickly was a big reason the Bears turned to Palmer. If he had to play Monday night, coaches say Palmer could run a scaled-back version the offense without the benefit of first-team practice reps that all were devoted to getting McCown up to speed.
"Without practice I think he's in a very good spot right now," coach Marc Trestman said early in the week. "He has retained quite a bit. He's got a good feel for what we're doing. I believe he could go in there and manage the game reasonably well at this point in time, based on where he is.
"He's got to be ready to go. That's what veterans do. He'll work after practice and do the things he needs to do to be ready just like Josh did throughout the year."
Palmer credits his readiness to the coaching he's received.
"(Quarterbacks) coach Cavanaugh is a great teacher," Palmer said. "They do a really good job of understanding who their quarterbacks are, and what they need to prepare them with. I felt really confident playing in the preseason, even though I was only here for a couple days. I feel really comfortable and confident going into Monday night should my number get called."
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