Quarterback Jimmy Clausen no longer must live up to the expectations that come with being a former second-round pick, but he’ll need to fight his way onto the Chicago Bears‘ 53-man roster this summer to keep his NFL career afloat.
There’s no denying that Clausen was atrocious during his rookie campaign in 2010, barely completing over 50 percent of his passes and throwing nine interceptions to only three touchdown passes for the Carolina Panthers. But he hasn’t attempted a pass in a regular-season game since.
Some rookies just aren’t ready to adjust to the speed of the NFL game; that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll never develop into anything. Until Clausen’s ineptitude is confirmed as a veteran, the book shouldn’t be entirely closed on his capabilities as a pro.
Now, Clausen wasn’t exactly promising during practices or exhibition games with the Panthers, which is probably a big reason why he never got another shot. But the Bears were wise to take a flier on him, especially given their need for a backup quarterback.
Josh McCown, the former backup who won himself a starting job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by filling in admirably for Jay Cutler in 2013, has left a void. It’ll be up to Clausen or his competition of Jordan Palmer and sixth-round pick David Fales to fill it. All three are presumably competing for two spots, so Clausen can possibly steal the show or simply not be the worst of the trio to land a reserve role in Chicago.
Considering the starter, Cutler, hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2009, Clausen must demonstrate some sort of consistency during training camp and the preseason games to stick on as the No. 2. Frankly, if there is even a remote chance he could play, he’ll need to earn the coaching staff’s trust.
Clausen possess the arm strength to make every throw, but must prove he can accompany it with proficient decision-making and accuracy, something he was unable to accomplish in Carolina.
There’s a chance, albeit small, that Clausen can resurrect his career in Chicago. Following the blueprint laid by McCown, who waited for an opportunity, then made the most of one when his chance finally arrived, Clausen can prove he belongs in the NFL.
First things first, though, he must be better than Palmer and Fales and whoever might tempt the Bears on the waiver wire in training camp.
Cody Strahm is an NFL Senior Writer at Rant Sports. Follow him Twitter.