The Bears will wrap up their three-day rookie minicamp this afternoon at Halas Hall after which the Bears might extend contract offers to a few of the 25 tryout players.
It might be tough for any of the three quarterbacks to get one. It's not so much Jay Cutler that is in their way but an inexperienced depth chart behind the new starter. Northwestern's C.J. Bacher, Missouri's Chase Patton and Florida State's Drew Weatherford have been splitting time. Blocking their way are Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanez. Hanie, the undrafted free agent from last season, has yet to appear in an NFL game. Basanez threw 11 passes in 2006. The Bears might be hesitant to add a third inexperienced passer to their depth chart and they only carried three quarterbacks to training camp last summer. When they took a fourth quarterback--Florida's Chris Leak--to Bourbonnais, Ill., in 2007 he pretty much just stood around. There wasn't enough work to go around.
Patton is battling a lack of experience as well trying to become the next Matt Cassel--a career college backup who hits it big. At 6-5, 220 pounds, he has the kind of size the NFL is looking for and the strongest arm of the bunch. But he played behind Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel and threw only 31 passers over the last two seasons.
"Naturally, I feel I am behind a lot of guys just because I haven't had the on-the-field experience but that is something I can't worry about because that's just the situation I have been dealt so I have to work my butt off to make that gap up,'' Patton said. "I feel like I am coming along pretty well.
"I hope I have enough where people are going to want to take a look at me. I have to come up here and make plays and not make mental errors. I have to show I can execute and be consistent."
Patton had a good week at the Texas vs. The Nation all-star game but was rolled up on from behind on the fourth play of the game, keeping him from getting more game action. A native of Columbia, Mo., the natural question is whether or not he regrets toiling behind Daniel instead of getting an opportunity elsewhere.
"I can't have regrets or what-ifs because that just distracts you from what you are doing now,'' he said. "My faith was a big part of my decision to go to Missouri and with my faith I was there and I was committed to the team. I thought I could compete even after Chase Daniel came in and had a good year backing up Brad Smith. I trusted I was there and I could compete. I ended up learning a lot in the backup role, a lot of mental toughness and perseverance, preparing yourself for the game when you know you might not play. There were a lot of things I got from it so I am thankful for my time there."
This weekend isn't the only shot for these players. There will be more opportunities. If Weatherford doesn't sign a contract with the Bears, he is headed to New Orleans this coming week for another minicamp.