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.''