CHICAGO — Jay Cutler figures he won’t know who his backup quarterback is until the Chicago Bears wrap up the preseason.
Through two games, it’s tough to say who’s leading the competition — Jimmy Clausen or Jordan Palmer?
Palmer came on in the fourth quarter to lead two touchdown drives after Clausen struggled at times, and the Bears rallied to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-19 on Thursday night.
“They both practice well,” Cutler said. “They’re both overcoming adversity in practice from time to time. They’re preparing really hard. I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision.”
Jacksonville’s Chad Henne passed for 130 yards and a touchdown, and Blake Bortles threw for 160 in relief before Palmer led the Bears back in the fourth. Senorise Perry scored on a 5-yard run with 50 seconds left, and C.J. Wilson intercepted a pass to seal the win.
Jared Allen made his first appearance for Chicago after signing in the offseason and finished with one tackle for a loss. He just missed a sack on the game’s opening drive when he slipped, but it was mostly a quiet night.
“That’s the toughest part of transitioning from training camp to the game,” Allen said. “In training camp you’ve got to run by the quarterback.”
The five-time Pro Bowl defensive end sat out last week’s opening win over Philadelphia after he missed practices because his wife had a baby.
Henne showed mobility in the pocket and completed 12 of 17 passes before leaving with a 13-7 lead in the second quarter.
“We feel very strongly about Chad,” coach Gus Bradley said.
But he also plans to give Bortles some snaps with the first team, possibly in the coming week.
The rookie looked sharp again after an impressive showing last week in a victory over Tampa Bay. The No. 3 pick in the draft, Bortles went 11 for 17, but the Jaguars came away with the loss.
Cutler completed 7 of 9 passes for 79 yards and called it a night after throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall early in the second quarter.
Clausen got the first call after Cutler left the game, with Palmer serving as the second man in relief in a flip from the preseason opener. But Clausen struggled through some headset problems after a strong performance last week.
The former Notre Dame star and Carolina Panther went 11 of 15 for 94 yards. He also had a pass intercepted by Josh Evans early in the third quarter off linebacker Telvin Smith’s deflection after the headset went out on him.
“There were three to five plays where it just became confusion and he really didn’t get us into the best plays,” coach Marc Trestman said. “He was trying to make something good out of a bad situation, and there wasn’t any way I could help him. That group of I would say up to a half a dozen plays when Jimmy was in there, it was very difficult to evaluate.”
Palmer started the fourth quarter and threw for 73 yards, completing 6 of 9 passes.
“This is a competition and coaches have done a phenomenal job of making it very fair, evaluating us every day and so when you get to the preseason, you wait until your turn and then you go in there and try to make the most of it,” Palmer said.
Martellus Bennett had a 25-yard catch after being suspended by the team last week for an altercation in practice with cornerback Kyle Fuller, who left this game after injuring his ankle on the opening possession.
The Jaguars scored on all three first-quarter possessions while grabbing a 13-0 lead, with Josh Scobee kicking a pair of field goals and Henne hitting Marqise Lee with a 6-yard touchdown pass. The TD came after Chicago’s Eric Weems fumbled away a kickoff.
The Bears cut it to 13-7 early in the second quarter, when Cutler hit Marshall with a 4-yarder to cap a 10-play drive. But a 43-yard field goal by Scobee late in the half made it 16-7.
Notes: Trestman said he has no issue with Marshall serving as an analyst for Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” show. “I trust Brandon,” he said. “He asked me about it. I trust him to make a decision that was in the best interest of the team first, and I know Brandon. I know he’ll do that.” … Trestman had few details on CB Kyle Fuller (ankle) and backup TE Zach Miller (foot) after they left the game with injuries. He did say the bruised knee that kept DE Willie Young out of the game is not serious. … Jaguars RT Austin Pasztor (broken hand) and backup C Luke Bowanko (sprained ankle) left the game.
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