CHICAGO -

He's worn a golden dome and Carolina's blue. But this past Friday night, Jimmy Clausen made his debut in the navy and orange uniform of the Chicago Bears.

Yes, it was just the second half of the preseason opener. But for the former Notre Dame star quarterback, it was the next completion in his career rehabilitation.

"A lot of people don't like change in the world," says Clausen. "But this is a good change. I'm fortunate to be here and to have a great opportunity."

Clausen hasn't played in the regular season since his rookie year in 2010. The second round draft pick threw three touchdowns and nine interceptions before Carolina drafted Cam Newton with the number one overall pick the following year.

He spent his final year with the Panthers on injured reserve, recovering from a torn labrum and the ensuing shoulder surgery. Clausen was a man without a job until the Bears signed him on June 5th.

The career upheaval reminds Clausen of his freshman year with the Irish, when the former number one recruit in the nation was benched midway through the season.

"I've gone through troubled times, like I did in South Bend," he says. "My first year was pretty brutal in South Bend. But if it doesn't kill you, it only makes you stronger and you just got to persevere."

With three preseason games remaining, Clausen is locked in a tight competition with Jordan Palmer for the backup job behind Jay Cutler.

"Obviously I'm not going to be the starting quarterback here," says Clausen. "But if I'm competing every day to compete with Jay, that's only going to make me better. Hopefully I'll be here down the road."

The key to Clausen's resurgence could be head coach Marc Trestman, a quarterback whisperer of sorts who helped Clausen prepare for the NFL Draft four years ago.

"He's just very in tune to concepts, protections," Clausen says of the second-year Bears boss. "Getting the quarterbacks in the right place at the right time."

Still just 26 years old, and entering his fifth season in the league, Clausen hopes he's finally found the right place and the right time in Chicago.