LAKE FOREST | Jimmy Clausen? Well, well.
After failing with the Carolina Panthers as a rookie, and not having played a snap since 2010, the former Notre Dame star will vie for the Bears' backup spot at training camp July 24 to August 13 on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.
This week's three-day mandatory mini-camp was Clausen's reprieve, with coach Marc Trestman and Bears' starter Jay Cutler impressed by what they saw.
“I think that Jimmy has competed, and done a good job for the time that he’s been here. I expect that he’ll be with us," Trestman said.
"I watched Jimmy when he was at Notre Dame and liked him," Cutler said. "He was in a tough situation at Carolina with that offensive line, he got hit a lot, and the system turned over.
"Once he got here, he was in the quarterback room grinding away. He was peppering all of us with questions. He likes the opportunity he has here and is humbled by his experience in Carolina, being on the street, and getting picked up again."
On Tuesday, practice had ended inside the Walter Payton Center with only Clausen and projected backup Jordan Palmer on the field, working on snap counts and footwork.
Palmer, whose job Clausen is hoping to take, is recovering from a strained pectoral muscle.
"Jordan's out there working on some stuff and I was trying to help him out and read the plays for him," Clausen said. "Obviously, I'm new to the offense, so the more I can read the plays and articulate the plays -- whether it's to help him or he's helping me -- the better for both of us.
"I found out really fast this team helps everybody out. It doesn't matter what position you play or where you're at on the depth chart."
Some call this a fresh start for the 26-year-old Clausen, while others believe it's his last chance to stick with an NFL team.
His career totals in Carolina were an embarrassing three touchdown passes, nine interceptions, nine fumbles, and a 1-9 record.
In 2011, the Panthers drafted Cam Newton and signed veteran Derek Anderson, dropping Clausen to third string.
The trip to Bourbonnais must feel like a free month in Las Vegas to the native of Thousand Oaks, Calif.
"It definitely is a fresh start. That's how I'm looking at it," Clausen said. "That's how I have to do things. This offense is difficult, but at the same time, I've been in situations where concepts are similar, but it's just the terminology that's different.
"I'm going to try to grasp it as fast as possible so I can play fast and not be thinking all the time."
The 2010 second-round draft pick has turned the page on his time in Carolina.
"There were a lot of different variables. You can't pinpoint one significant thing," Clausen said as to why his rookie season was a bust. "For whatever reason, it didn't work out.
"Working every day to get better and help us win is my primary goal."
Clausen's perceived cockiness and arrogance were highlighted when he announced his verbal commitment at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend after arriving in a stretch Hummer limousine and wearing a white fur coat.
He then said his goal was to win multiple national titles with the Irish, which never happened.
In 2007, Clausen was cited for illegal transportation of alcohol in South Bend. In 2009, he was involved in an altercation outside a South Bend pub.
The negative headlines made him an easy target for opponents, media and Notre Dame haters.
"I just have to live my life the way I'm living my life," Clausen said. "If you worry about it, you'll miss other things in life that are much bigger.
"As a quarterback, you have to be confident. It can be confused with cockiness, but you have to embrace that confidence on each and every play."