The Chicago Bears will be taking on the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks on Friday night, and when they do, they will be doing so with a new back-up quarterback following Jay Cutler onto the field.
That’s because Jordan Palmer, who came into training camp as the team’s back-up, will be the second man up when Cutler and the other starters leave the game. Palmer was Cutler’s back-up in the first week, but has since been surpassed in the eyes of many by Jimmy Clausen, who backed up Cutler in Week 2 of the preseason. The decision by Marc Trestman to put Palmer in before Clausen isn’t necessarily surprising, but it does show that the coach still feels that this competition is still wide open, contrary to the viewpoints of many observers.
The Palmer vs. Clausen battle won’t be the only one taking on a new wrinkle on Friday. Chris Conte, who missed the first two weeks of training camp in Bourbonnais due to shoulder surgery, will be in the lineup for the Bears against the Seahawks. He could potentially be joined by wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who is quickly trying to get up to speed on the offense after signing with the team last week.
Conte joins an already crowded battle for a starting safety job, but he could have the inside track due to his familiarity with the system. Ryan Mundy has been impressive in his first two preseason games, and veteran Adrian Wilson is still battling with Danny McCray for a spot in the lineup, but Conte could overtake the latter two players if he performs well in the final weeks of the preseason.
As for Holmes, the wide receiver isn’t for sure going to be in the lineup for the Bears Friday, but he’s still in the mix for a job as Marquess Wilson continues to recover from surgery on his broken clavicle. Josh Morgan will get the reps at third wide receiver on Friday, but if Holmes plays, look for him to get some targets to get him back up to game speed.
Holmes and Conte have both been working hard on the practice field this week at Halas Hall, but another player was a bit of a surprise addition to the proceedings, as right tackle Jordan Mills suited up and participated in drills:
Mills hasn’t practiced for quite a while after sustaining an injury to his surgically repaired foot, and in his absence Michael Ola has stepped up in a big way on the right side of the line. That battle would seem to be open for the starting job even if Mills is 100% healthy to start the regular season, but getting the second-year player back on the field is still a big boost to the Bears’ depth on the offensive line.