By Milt Northrop
News Sports Reporter
Wearing jersey No. 5, Jordan Palmer, the newest Buffalo Bills backup quarterback, went through his first practice with the team Tuesday on the grass field outside the field house at One Bills Drive. The team announced the signing of the 30-year-old veteran today.
In the portion of the practice open to the media, Palmer went through the routine footwork and ballhandling drills with the other QBs, EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel, under the watchful eye of quarterbacks coach Todd Downing.
Throwing to backs and receivers against air, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Palmer showed a quick release, a lively arm and good accuracy in admittedly a soft first test. He had two very catchable balls dropped.
Palmer was the starting quarterback for his final three seasons at UTEP and holds several Miners passing records set under veteran coach Mike Price from 2004-06. They included season passing yards (3,595), season completion percentage (65.7) as well as career marks for completion percentage (59.6) and 300-yard passing games (16). In his career at UTEP he pass for 95 touchdowns and 11,041 yards.
After all that activity, the younger brother of 2002 Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer has seen almost no regular season game action in the NFL in his seven seasons since Washington made him a sixth-round selection in 2007.
Palmer never has started an NFL game and has played in only four games, in 2008 and 2010 with the Cincinnati Bengals. He's completed 10 of 15 passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns in that sparse action. He also has been with Jacksonville and Chicago, which cut him last weekend in favor of Jimmie Clausen as the backup to Jay Cutler.
His never having started a actual NFL game probably makes Bills followers nervous. Though it is ancient history, no regular season starts on Palmer's resume is the same number Frank Reich had in four seasons before he replaced the injured Jim Kelly for three games in the middle of the 1989 season. Buffalo won all three.
Before that season, Reich had played in only seven games and completed 10 of 20 throws for 123 yards and no touchdowns.