By Adam Hoge-
LAKE FOREST (CBS) — Just days after Jordan Palmer sat out the team portion of last week’s open OTA practice, the team signed quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Then, Wednesday, Palmer sat out again.
So what’s going on?
“I’ve got a little strain in my pec, so they’re holding me out for last week and this week,” Palmer explained after Wednesday’s second-to-last OTA practice.
The Bears’ backup quarterback said he’ll be ready to go for next week’s mini-camp, which runs Tuesday through Thursday.
“Just letting it breathe,” he said. “It’s frustrating because it’s not anything (like a) serious injury. Just pulling me out and letting it get a little bit of rest.”
With Palmer out, Jay Cutler took a large majority of the reps in Wednesday’s practice, similar to what he does during the regular season. As the newest member of the group, Clausen was eased in slowly, while Jerrod Johnson and David Fales took most of the reps behind Cutler. Wednesday was only Clausen’s second practice with the team.
“Just trying to learn the plays as quick as possible,” Clausen said. “It’s a very unique offense. What I’ve seen so far, Jay (Cutler) going through it and the rest of the quarterbacks, it’s a quarterback-friendly offense, which is great. Just gotta try to pick it up as quick as possible.”
Clausen actually has some history with Bears coach Marc Trestman, who worked him out at his Pro Day before the 2010 NFL Draft.
“To be with coach Trestman for that week-and-a-half, I really learned a lot,” Clausen said.
Vereen running with the ones
For the second straight week, rookie safety Brock Vereen took reps with the first-team defense. In fact, he took all the reps alongside Ryan Mundy on Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t say shocked, but I know nothing is set in stone,” Vereen said when asked if he was surprised he was already seeing time with the starters. “I’m just coming in and working hard and if that gets me on the field, then so be it.”
The fourth-round draft pick is part of a big competition at safety that also includes Mundy, M.D. Jennings, Danny McCray and Chris Conte, when he gets back from shoulder surgery. Wednesday was Vereen’s day to run with the ones, as Jennings has received his chances, too.
“We have a rotation going,” Vereen said. “There’s about four or five of us. When I can get an opportunity to get reps with them, I just try to take full advantage of it.”
It appears the rookie has made a positive early impression on the coaching staff, and he may be a serious threat to Conte at free safety.
“The speed of the game would be the biggest progress (I’ve made),” Vereen said. “It’s finally starting to slow down, and now I’m more so reacting than thinking.”
Of course, he knows it’s still early in the game. The players aren’t even wearing pads yet.
“As some of the vets say, there’s OTA speed and then there’s training camp speed and then there’s season speed,” Vereen said.
Everybody except Conte was present at Wednesday’s practice. Left guard Matt Slauson (shoulder) and safety Craig Steltz (undisclosed) sat out as expected, while kick/punt returner Chris Williams (undisclosed) was limited.
— The Bears continue to toy with their linebacker rotations. The first-team base unit included Shea McClellin, D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs on Wednesday, but when the team went to nickel, the two linebackers on the field were Briggs and Jon Bostic.
— It’s a little weird seeing a quarterback involved in special teams drills, but that’s exactly where Jerrod Johnson found himself Wednesday. And not just as a holder or something; Johnson was used as a gunner.
— Former Cleveland Browns great Bernie Kosar visited practice Wednesday. You can read more about his role with the team here.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.