The Bears took a chance by cutting Matt Blanchard last week and almost lost him.
Blanchard, the rookie quarterback from Lake Zurich High School and Division II Wisconsin-Whitewater, was cut prior to last week's final preseason game. The Bears knew they wanted him on their practice squad, but apparently didn't want him to put anything on tape that might interest another team.
It almost backfired. The Dolphins called Blanchard after he cleared waivers and brought him down for a tryout. ''It went well,'' Blanchard said. But by then, ''things were developing with Chicago, so we kind of knew I was going to come back here.''
Blanchard could not be happier with the way things turned out. He was signed to the Bears' practice squad on Saturday.
''I could have been in Miami and I could have been here. It was either or,'' Blanchard said. ''But with the option, being here in Chicago. It's my hometown. My family's here. I've been dreaming of being a Bear my entire life. This is an incredible feeling.''
It culminated a challenging week for Blanchard, who thought he had been doing well, then got cut, he said, without any promise of being put on the practice squad.
''I knew a little bit of what could happen, but I didn't know the full plan,'' Blanchard said. ''I was just hoping for the best the whole week. I rode the emotional roller-coaster with the highs and the lows. It was a relief that this was going to happen.''
A year ago at this time, Blanchard was planning on doing student-teaching in Whitewater in preparation for a teaching job and a career in coaching. Now he's living a dream.
''It's so great,'' Blanchard said. ''You visualize yourself being in the lockerroom during the game. You kind of visualize everything happening. Now that it's here it's an incredible feeling.
''I look forward to taking advantage of every day. This career is short-lived and you want to make the most of it. If I can play for a long time, I'd be a happy person. But right now it's just taking it day by day.''