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Bears WR Dane Sanzenbacher has to prove himself again



A crowd estimated at 12,000 greeted the Bears at Olivet Nazarene on Sunday, but the Bears didn’t give the fans their best showing. Coach Lovie Smith sounded disappointed. The Bears’ first exhibition game is Thursday against the Broncos. ‘‘Normally after you come back from a Soldier Field practice [Friday night], you don’t have the best practice you had during training camp, and that’s probably the case with us,’’ Smith said. ‘‘We’re not ready for the game yet.’’


Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher missed his fourth consecutive practice with a sore left knee. ‘‘Hopefully, we’ll get him back out here before too long,’’ Smith said. ‘‘But we’ll take our time with Brian. We know what he can do.’’ Asked if Urlacher would need arthroscopy to determine the cause of his discomfort, Smith said, ‘‘We’re on top of his knee. When he’s ready to go, he’ll be back out there.’’ Defensive end Julius Peppers also missed practice, though Smith said there was ‘‘nothing serious with him.” Running back Matt Forte missed a good part of 11-on-11 drills with a thumb injury.

Mark Potash


Monday: 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Closed to public


Thursday vs. Broncos 7:30

Aug. 18 vs. Redskins 7

Aug. 24 at Giants 7

Aug. 30 at Browns 6:30


The Bears open the season against the Colts at noon Sept. 9.

Updated: September 7, 2012 6:18AM

BOURBONNAIS — Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher didn’t play on special teams much at Ohio State, and he isn’t all that jazzed about participating in them for the Bears.

“Obviously, my goal isn’t to be a special-teamer,’’ Sanzenbacher said. ‘‘I doubt that’s anyone’s goal; everybody wants to play their position. I need to take care of business at receiver, and then I’ll get more opportunities on special teams.”

That’s not to say Sanzenbacher can’t — or won’t — do it.

“If you can play your position, [special-teams] coach [Dave] Toub will find a place for you,” he said. “And when I’m out there, I’m going to give him everything I’ve got.”

An undrafted rookie last season, Sanzenbacher was active for all 16 games and even started one. He had 27 catches for 276 yards and three touchdowns.

During the offseason, though, the Bears traded for three-time Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, drafted Alshon Jeffery in the second round and signed veterans Eric Weems and Devin Thomas as free agents.

On Sunday, Thomas retired, and Weems has been sidelined for most of training camp with an injury. So with Earl Bennett out with a calf injury, Sanzenbacher stepped in and hauled in several passes from quarterback Jay Cutler.

“Big impression,” coach Lovie Smith said of how Sanzenbacher has fared. “The same type he made last year, coming in as an undrafted free agent and earning a spot on the roster. He has a role, what he can do. Quick receiver in the slot. Shows up every day. He’s a good football player.”

That, however, doesn’t guarantee him anything.

Four spots are locked up (Marshall, Devin Hester, Bennett and Jeffery), and Weems, who received $1.5 million in guarantees, also would appear a safe bet to make the roster. So that means Sanzenbacher would be competing with Brittan Golden and Terriun Crump, undrafted free agents, for a sixth spot.

If there’s a sixth spot.

The Bears could use that for another position such as running back, where Armando Allen has been impressive, even though he’s fourth on the depth chart.

Sanzenbacher knows nothing is guaranteed.

“I have just as much to prove,’’ Sanzenbacher said. ‘‘You go into the locker room on your Family Day, and you still don’t have a guaranteed locker yet. It’s the same situation, just a year down the road.”

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