Bears make move to improve at backup quarterback

The Sports Xchange
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--Were it not for last season's five-game losing streak that coincided with quarterback Jay Cutler's season-ending wrist fracture, Jerry Angelo might still be the Bears' general manager.

When backup quarterback Caleb Hanie failed miserably as Cutler's fill-in, it exposed a personnel deficiency that wound up costing Angelo his job. Angelo's replacement, Phil Emery, won't make the same mistake. Emery made sure of that by signing former Raider and Redskin Jason Campbell, who has started 70 NFL games.

"We want to go into the season knowing that if something were to happen to Jay that we have a quarterback ... that we can still win a championship (with), and we really believe we have found that in Jason Campbell," Emery said.

Campbell compiled an 84.2 passer rating and led the Raiders to a 4-2 start last season before suffering a fractured collarbone. The 30-year-old, seven-year veteran has a career passer rating of 82.8.

--As far as preseason schedules go, the Bears have a pretty interesting one this year.

Coach Lovie Smith's team opens the preseason against the Broncos and their new quarterback, Peyton Manning, the second weekend in August (9-12) at Soldier Field.

In the same game, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and his new wide receiver Brandon Marshall will face the team they played for from 2006-08. In their last two seasons together in Denver, Marshall caught 206 passes for 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns, and both players went to the Pro Bowl.

Exact dates and times for all preseason games will be announced at a later date.

In their second preseason game, the weekend of Aug. 16-19, the Bears host the Redskins, who are expected to draft Baylor's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick later this month.

The Bears play their final two preseason games on the road. They face the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and Peyton Manning's younger brother, Eli, in a nationally-televised game on CBS Friday, Aug. 24. They finish up at Cleveland against the Browns on Thursday, Aug. 30. It will mark the ninth straight preseason in which the Bears have finished up against the Browns.

--Devin Thomas has never lived up to the hype since being drafted early in the second round (34th overall) by the Redskins in 2008, but he's still just 25, and he's getting a fresh start with the Bears.

In four NFL seasons with the Redskins (2008-10), Panthers (2010) and Giants (2010-11), he's caught just 43 passes for 482 yards and three touchdowns.

The 6-1, 221-pounder won a Super Bowl ring with the Giants last season, and he has been a major contributor on special teams as a kickoff returner and covering kicks. He recovered two fumbles in the NFC Championship Game, including one that set up the game-winning field goal in overtime.

"I really feel good about him, adding to our wideout depth and being a special teams player," Bears general manager Phil Emery said. "We think that maybe he's at a spot in his career where he's ready to move forward. I think he sees this as a great opportunity to move forward in his career; get more involved, get more catches."

QUOTE TO NOTE
"I scouted him when I was with the Kansas City Chiefs. I think an awful lot of his talent and his abilities. He's what we're looking for; that's a big, long-armed, strong, quick-footed man. He's as smart as any offensive lineman you'd ever want to draft, so he adds a lot to our mix." -- Bears general manager Phil Emery on right tackle Gabe Carimi, who won the starting job last season as a rookie but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game.

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