A few weeks ago, Jordan Palmer was working for a marketing company in California, interviewing potential interns. On Thursday night, he'll start at quarterback for the Bears in their preseason finale against the Browns.
"I can't put it into words how excited I am," said Palmer, who signed with the Bears Aug. 17 after third-string quarterback Matt Blanchard broke his left hand. "I just feel very blessed.
"I coach a lot of young quarterbacks through a program called the Elite 11, and the same thing I tell them is the same thing that's true with me. You don't know how many opportunities you're going to get and when you're going to get your last one, so you have to take advantage of the ones that you get. You can't control when it happens, but you can only be prepared for it."
The younger brother of Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, Jordan Palmer has appeared in four NFL games over four seasons with the Bengals (2008-10) and Jaguars (2012), completing 10 of 15 passes for 59 yards with two interceptions and a 34.4 passer rating.
As he attempts to battle his way back into the league, Palmer has simple goals for Thursday night's start against the Browns.
"I've been in not this exact situation before, but I've been in situations where you haven't got a lot of reps and aren't really sure about the guys you're in there with," he said. "At this point, it doesn't become how many yards you throw for or how many touchdowns you throw. It becomes how do you each series complete balls, move the chains and finish in the red zone."
Although he's only been with the Bears a short period of time, Palmer feels prepared to play. He credits coach Marc Trestman with giving him and Trent Edwards—who also was signed after Blanchard got hurt—enough practice reps to gain a firm grasp of the offense. Edwards is expected to relieve Palmer at some point in the game.
"I feel ready to go," Palmer said. "Coach Trestman has done an unbelievable job of carving out enough time for me and Trent to get ready while still pushing the ones forward and thinking Cincinnati and the regular season. I feel like I'm in a very fortunate situation. I'm excited to play.
"The game plan that we have, it's by no means elementary. We've got a bunch of stuff in there, and on paper we've got answers for what we think Cleveland is going to bring. I feel very prepared and ready to go. It's not about the reps. It's about your understanding of where you're supposed to go with the ball, how to protect it and then [Thursday] night comes down to making good decisions."