Chicago Sun-Times

Rookie WR Sanzenbacher making good impression

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As an undrafted rookie free agent trying to make the team without any offseason workouts, Bears wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher has one one thing in mind when he comes to practice: ''Do something they're going to remember.''

The 5-11, 180-pound rookie from Ohio State is doing just that. Sanzenbacher earned reps with the first-team in Monday night's practice and will get more after catching everything that came his way.

''He's got a chance. He's a player,'' Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said. ''You get an opportunity to make plays and that's what he does. He's steady. I've been impressed with what I've seen so far from him. We're going to keep giving him opportunities.''

Sanzenbacher had 55 receptions for 948 yards (17.2 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns at Ohio State last season and was a first-team all-Big Ten pick. It looks like he's responded to the challenge of the next level and raised his game since coming to the Bears.

''I haven't had a choice but to raise my game,'' he said. ''Having everything shrunk down with the lockout, it's even more limited time for rookies to get reps. And you've got to make the best of your opportunities. You want to show them you'll do whatever it takes to make this team. That's what I'm trying to do every day.''

''He's a good football player,'' Smith said. ''We want to get the players in game-type situations. He's making the most of it. We all noticed him tonight.''

Sanzenbacher isn't big by any stretch and his reported 40 speed of 4.56 is far from blazing for a 5-11 wide receiver. What does he do well?

''His routes are good. They're solid,'' Drake said. ''He's where he's supposed to be. He doesn't let me screaming and hollering at him faze him. He just comes out and works. As long as he continues to do that he should be OK.''

The Bears liked Sanzenbacher when they did their draft evaluations, but had priorities ahead of a wide receiver in the draft. Sanzenbacher reportedly had 25 NFL teams contact him and was offered more money by a couple of them, but chose the Bears.

''I didn't come to Chicago because I thought it was my best chance to play in the NFL. Or if it didn't work here I could get somewhere else. It was because I wanted to make this team. I felt like, 'I'm undrafted and I get a choice. I want to go to a team that I wanted to make and play for them.' And I felt this was it.''

Why the Bears?

''I don't know. I was never a big NFL fan growing up. I never had a team I followed or anything. I think when you just look at a team's personality, I think there's a certain toughness about Chicago and a certain grit and all that. And I think it's a team that is on the brink of being great and winning a championship and I want to be a part of that.''

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Well we always fall in love with a long shot receiver in training camp. It might as well be Sanzenbacher.

It's confusing is what it is. Martz says size doesn't matter, then the Bears go out and sign almost 13 feet of veteran free agent to play receiver?

I do know this. He can get Martz on his side if he pays attention and catches everything thrown his way. He can get on Drake's good side if he can get separation. Cutler will love him if he winds up where he is supposed to be, when he is supposed to be there.

And none of that matters unless Dave Toub wants him on the team. The kid better pin his ears back and be a terror on the kick coverage teams or he has no chance.

Couldn't agree more.

I went to training camp last night and one player stood out with his hustle and skill. Dan Sanzenbacher looks like he would be a real asset to our receiving core despite his size. I don't usually follow the Buckeye hype, but I've read about his tremendous leadership and work ethic in college.

I know he would be competing for the 6th WR slot behind Hester, Bennett, Knox, Hurd, & Williams, so I was wondering how he looked on special teams and what you think his chances are of making the roster? The kid deserves accolades for his hard work last night; he really stole the show and was the talk of the entire crowd.

I've watched this kid for the last 4 years with THE Ohio State Buckeyes and believe me, he is the REAL DEAL!! I would start him in the slot right now! Sorry Earl Bennett but to me he will be the third, possibly the second, best WR on the Bears this year. I bet Peyton Manning would love this kid, he reminds me of an Austin Collie. Just wait and pray JA and Co. don't screw this up!!

Reliable, tough and smart. He picked the right team and is going to demonstrate those qualities several times over. Jon Gruden saw it, Buckeye fans witnessed it, Bears fans are in for a treat!

I'm so excited for Dane and his NFL career. After watching him since HS I know that he'll have a great, successful time with the Bears.

I think the Bears would be on the right road keeping this Sanzenbacher as a wide reciever! His work ehtic is 110% on every play. 95% of the wide-outs in the NFL loaf on most plays, don't block very well and just want to make the BIG Play to be on Sports Center! The short 4 or 5 yarders don't appeal to them, I want to be the show is their attitudes. KEEP Dane and have a real Player the workers in the USA would be proud of!

Dane is the real deal. He is one of those types that get to where he is by work ethic and determination, not on pure athletic skill alone like many players in the league these days.

Watch some of his highlights from OSU. He's tough. He goes up for the balls that other receivers won't go for. He can and will take a hit, and often retain possession of the ball. Funny that Ted Ginn Jr should have been something special in the NFL but didn't seem to want it enough, but this kid does and he will make the Bears fans proud with his grit, determination and work ethic.

There is no Buckeye Hype. Just Buckeye Dopeness

Wes Welker before entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent:

5'9" 185 lbs
4.65 40-yd dash

Dane Sanzenbacher

5'11" 180 lbs
4.56 40-yd dash

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