This isn't the first time QB Jordan Palmer has parachuted into the latter stages of an NFL club's preseason in the hopes of finding a way to make a team's 53-man roster. Just last preseason while with Chicago, Palmer was asked to perform after just a week of being signed by the Bears.
"Playing quarterback in the NFL is difficult," said Palmer. "I don't think it's unique, but I was in a similar situation last year. I got called in about eight days before the last (preseason) game and I started the last game. So I've been in similar situations, I feel very confident in it."
His stat line against the Cleveland Browns just eight days after joining Chicago's roster last summer, 11-17 passing for 111 yards, a touchdown and a passer rating of 102.8.
Palmer didn't make the Bears 53-man roster a week later. They chose to go with just two quarterbacks on their squad, but when Jay Cutler suffered a groin injury that would keep him out for a month, Palmer was their first call to back up Josh McCown.
"He impressed us," Bears head coach Marc Trestman said last October. "He was very efficient running the offense when he was in there on very short notice."
Doug Marrone is hoping Palmer can do the same this time around and upgrade Buffalo's backup quarterback picture.
"I think we've given ourselves an opportunity meaning that Jordan can come in here and show us what he has," said Marrone. "That's something that Doug (Whaley) and I have talked about quite a bit. I think it's more of an opportunity and we'll see how it goes."
This is not the first time the Bills have tried to find alternative backup quarterback options right before the regular season. Buffalo signed free agent QB Matt Leinart and acquired Thad Lewis in a trade with Detroit just a few days before their preseason finale last year. Leinart didn't last, but Lewis was first added to the practice squad before eventually getting called up to the active roster. He appeared in five games, but a year later Palmer is the quarterback who ultimately moved Lewis off the roster.
Palmer however, is more focused on getting a quick handle on what will be the seventh NFL system in his career. With his now former head coach and current offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett both coming from West Coast system roots, he's confident there will be some carry over from one offense to the other.
"I've only been in the playbook for a little bit, I haven't seen everything yet," he said. "But there's absolutely carry-over conceptually. I always say that it's kind of like a language. If I say 'Hello my name is Jordan' in Spanish, if I'm saying it in Spanish or I'm saying it in English, I'm still saying 'Hello my name is Jordan.' We're still having a guy run here, guy run there, we're just calling it something different. There's definitely carry over in the concepts. As I get further in the playbook and get to learn this a little bit better, I'll have a better understanding of what carries over and what doesn't."
Palmer is also an acquaintance of EJ Manuel having worked with him at former NFL QB Trent Dilfer's 'Elite 11' camp over the years.
"I've had an opportunity to spend some time with a lot of today's great quarterbacks, young guys," Palmer said. "EJ came through there along with other guys, I got to know him a few years ago there and the way he works and how talented he is and the career he had at Florida State and is now embarking on here in Buffalo. So it's great to be reunited with him and I'm here to compete and here to serve and help him any way I can."
The eight-year veteran has often been called a coach on the field and a true mentor-type for younger starters ahead of him on the depth chart. It's a role he's not opposed to assuming in Buffalo if it all works out.
"It's a role I'm comfortable with," Palmer said. "The best quarterbacks I've been around, particularly the guys who are backing up, they're leaders but they're really servant-leaders. I got to see it with Josh McCown last year, Chad Henne, and then all the way back to Mark Brunell when I played in Washington. Those are the guys who I think provide the most resources for their team—for the starter, for the staff, for the receivers, whoever it may be.
"When they do get an opportunity to play those are the guys who take advantage of it and play well. Starter-backup—I don't think about it in those terms. I'm just here to serve and help the guys around me and I know that will make me a better player in the process."
In the short term Palmer just wants to get enough of a feel for the offense to function against Detroit on Thursday.
"Right now, I'm just focused on Thursday night, trying to get as much of the playbook as I can," he said. "Trying to get an understanding of who these guys and where they're going to be. Get the play called right, get the ball to the right guy, whether it be a pass or a run and move the chains. So I haven't spent a minute thinking past that. I just need to come out here and be locked in on Thursday and perform well."