Chicago Sun-Times

Can the Bears find room for Dane Sanzenbacher?

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Like it is with a lot of NFL teams, the Bears' don't have enough depth for the last few cuts down to 53 -- the ones that will be decided in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns -- to make a big difference. Whether its keeping Mike Hass and cutting Joaquin Iglesias or vice-versa, moves to fill the final spots on the 53-man roster rarely prove costly or fruitful.

There are potential exceptions: Henry Melton edged out Jarron Gilbert for one of the last defensive line spots last year and is entrenched, at least for now, at defensive tackle. Matt Toeaina made the team as a ''bubble'' guy in 2008 and 2009 and is in the three-man rotation at tackle with Melton and Anthony Adams.

If there's a logjam anywhere on the roster it's at wide receiver, where the Bears might have to find room for undrafted rookie Dane Sanzenbacher. Unless the Bears suddenly lose interest in Roy Williams or don't need Sam Hurd on special teams, they have five ''locks'' at wide receiver: Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Williams and Hurd. More often than not, they only keep five on the active roster.

Considering the league-wide interest in Sanzenbacher after the draft, plus the impact Sanzenbacher has made in training camp, it would be risky for the Bears to try to put him on the eight-man practice squad (other team's can claim him if they put him on their 53-man roster). So if the Bears want to keep Sanzenbacher, as they almost certainly do, they'll have to make room for him.

''Sure there's a chance [of keeping six receivers],'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said. ''I think we have more than six receivers that we could feel comfortable playing.

''But it's hard to have six receivers, if you look at our history. What we're going to try to get is the best 53 players on our football team.''

What's interesting about the Sanzenbacher-mania in training camp is that his preseason statistics are very average -- six receptions for 57 yards (9.5 per game) and no touchdowns. But he opened eyes when he started getting first-team reps during the first week of training camp, and the momentum from that has turned him into the closest thing to a training camp ''sensation'' this year.

Perhaps aware of this, Sanzenbacher isn't getting ahead of himself. Asked if he thinks he's done enough to make the team he said, ''Not yet. I think there's still a lot to do this week [in practice] and obviously with the Browns game. You never stop proving yourself or trying to get a spot, especially when you're in my position. So you can't rest on anything.''

Sanzenbacher said he doesn't play the numbers game -- counting receivers ahead of him and figuring out how many the team will keep.

''I don't think I'm in a position to even try to play that game,'' he said. ''It doesn't really help much. All I can really focus on -- I know it sounds cliche' -- is what my job is. That's out of my hands.''

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7 Comments

lovie stated...and i quote "if you look at our history. What we're going to try to get is the best 53 players on our football team.'' if that is true, why the hell was todd collins on the 53 man roster last year, he was and still is trash..im a bears fan and always will be but i find it hard to believe what comes out of the mouth of bears management and coaching staff

What stuck out about rookie wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher wasn't his play as much as his smarts and ability to catch on to Mike Martz's very difficult scheme in such a quick matter of time. What was more impressive was Sanzenbacher caught on with no offseason workouts, he just showed up to camp as a rookie and did his thing. Now, is this guy an impact player, probably not, what he is is a very smart and good slot receiver that will be effective underneath and give Cutler a reliable set of hands. Chicago already has that type of receiver, his name is Earl Bennett. Another knock on Sanzenbacher is he's not a very willing blocker, he'll get in someones way but thats about it. He's not very physical at the point of attack and doesn't sustain his blocks, that could be a problem in the run game. What Chicago needs at receiver right now is for one of their split ends to step up and take over the position, be it Roy Williams or Johnny Knox.

Its gonna come down to either Sam Hurd or Dane Sanzenbacher? Hurd is such an impact player on special teams, he'll probably get the edge GO BEARS!!

Sanzenburger? Hahaha don't make me laugh. Like an undrafted free agent is going to do s###. The rpoblem is Knox and Hester are just as bad as him and dont get me started on Roy oh boy Williams. They all suck even Bennett is just ok but there isno way he starts on another team besides the Bears. N oway.

Wow a team full of fourth stringers at receevver. im sure Cutler is just slap happy ove rit.

Hey Hash Browns aka Mark Potatohash gues what considur yourself extra crispy now that you burned byt the King for the second time in arow.

It's fun to watch these guys fight for a place on the team, but I'm not sure it matters much for this year. We root for guys like this who maximize their talent and clearly love to play the game of football. However the Bears already have a lot of good football players. What they need is more blue chippers that can dominate their position on Sundays. Is Sanzenbacher ever going to give them that? It's possible, but unlikely.

I would be more excited if he was raw but ran a 4.25. Or if he was 6' 6" and was showing in the real world to be a lot quicker than could be expected from his combine workout.

What I'm excited about is that several players with other options, both veteran and UFA rookies, have clearly decided that they want to be Chicago Bears. The message I am getting is that they see Chicago as having a coaching staff that can help them get their careers either started or restarted. These players seem to think Halas Hall is a place where they will get a fair opportunity if they do their part.

They should NEVER have gotten rid of Mike Haas. Totally unacceptable. I still can't get over them cutting Jarron Gilbert. He was a THIRD ROUNDER. HELLO!! He jumps out of swimming pools. On YouTube for pete's sakes. HELLO! A guy who does that has got to be a HOF lineman.

I don't think there is any question about the "Great Dane" making the team, he has Welker like qualities , will get open and catch the ball. Look to see where he is at on special teams toinight for the real clue. I see them using him as thrid team puint returner, and also as an up back on the kick-off return team in case a team kicks short, not sure if he can do anything on a coverage unit, but if he can get to the third phase on special teams he's a lock.

I'm wondering who else we have that can add depth on the defensive side of the ball in case on injuries this season, Thomas and Decicco are playing for their NFL lives tonight along with Bowman, who has been a major disappointment since his 6 INT year a few season ago. He was supposed to have shored up our corner needs by now, with Jennings being a solid back-up alternative not starter. I look for a waiver wire pick-up here and will be looking at roster cuts for this option starting on Saturday.

We have a BIG 1st three weeks coming up....Go BEARS

"I would be more excited if he was raw but ran a 4.25. Or if he was 6' 6" and was showing in the real world to be a lot quicker than could be expected from his combine workout. "

Anything else? Perhaps a 80 in vert, or telekenetic powers that pulls the ball to his hands. Hahahaha, nah a 6"6 guy with 4.25 speed but is even quicker in real game situations will do.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on August 31, 2011 11:19 AM.

'Exceptional' Cutler expected to sit out preseason finale was the previous entry in this blog.

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