Notebook: Dane Sanzenbacher doesn’t take roster spot for granted
By MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org August 30, 2012 10:14PM
Xavier Adibi, Montario Hardesty
Updated: October 1, 2012 6:06PM
CLEVELAND — Dane Sanzenbacher knows better than to read anything into anything when it comes to the NFL. So even though Rashied Davis’ departure seemed to clear his path to the Bears’ 53-man roster, he knew he had to make a play Thursday.
That’s why he returned a punt that could have gotten him obliterated in the regular season on the first possession of the Bears’ 28-20 victory over the Browns in their preseason finale.
‘‘Nobody remembers a fair catch, do they?’’ Sanzenbacher said. ‘‘If it was close I was going to take it. Any time you can get the ball in your hands and make a play on special teams, it can turn some heads.’’
Sanzenbacher was stopped for no gain on the punt return. But he was not to be denied. After an interception by Jeremy Jones on the Browns next possession, Sanzenbacher caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown with a nifty one-handed grab against tight coverage.
‘‘In a game like this you want to make plays. You want to leave that last impression,’’ Sanzenbacher said. ‘‘We talked about it before the game — might as well do it now. You might not get another shot.’’
The real McCoy
Rookie cornerback Greg McCoy was ruing a missed tackle that led to a 17-yard pass play from Thaddeus Lewis to Josh Gordon in the third quarter when he got a chance for redemption sooner than he thought.
On the next series, McCoy jumped a short passing route from Lewis to Gordon. But visions of a pick-six appeared thwarted when the ball deflected in the air right to Gordon. The ball fortuitously went through Gordon’s hands, hit off his leg and right to McCoy, who alertly picked it up and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.
‘‘It should have been a pick-six,’’ McCoy said. ‘‘I figured they were going to come back to the play because that’s the same exact play I missed the tackle on. Just using football smarts and taking risks. All I was thinking was, ‘Get the ball and go.’ ’’
A Golden opportunity
After dropping a third-down pass earlier in the game, Brittan Golden was in the right place at the right time to make up for it. After Patrick Trahan forced a deflected punt, Golden plucked the ball out of the air and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
‘‘I thought Trahan was going to pick it up, but it squirted out and I just picked it up and took off,’’ Golden said. ‘‘It was super exciting. But when you have a dropped pass, it tneds to stick with you.’’
Big game for Adibi
Linebacker Xavier Adibi was a long shot from the time he joined the Bears two weeks into training camp. The only reason he was signed was because the Bears lost three linebackers early in camp. But he gave the coaching staff something to think about.
Adibi, a fourth-round draft pick by the Houston Texans who has played 38 games with eight starts in four NFL seasons, made five tackles in the first quarter — including a sack of Colt McCoy and a tackle-for-loss — of the Bears’ preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.
Starting at middle linebacker, Adibi stopped Browns running back Montario Hardesty for a two-yard loss and a one-yard gain on back-to-back plays, leading to a third-and-long interception by Jeremy Jones.
Adibi was on the bench on the next series. But after the Browns drove 30 yards on four plays, Adibi returned and sacked McCoy for a nine-yard loss and the Browns eventually punted.
Pick to click
Jones, a rookie safety from Wayne State, made an impressive interception, leaping to snare a downfield pass and returning it 13 yards to the Browns 20. Josh McCown threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Dane Sanzenbacher on the next play.
‘‘Jeremy Jones,’’ Bears coach Lovie Smith said when in his halftime radio interview. ‘‘Great interception, had a couple of good tackes. Showed up.’’
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea, who has been out since Aug. 11 with an ankle injury, went through a strenuous warm-up in uniform prior to the game that was monitored by defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Paea didn’t play in the game, but he moved well enough to support his contention that he’ll be able to practice next week and possibly play against the Colts in the season opener Sept. 9 at Soldier Field.
Brian Urlacher, who also expects to return to practice next week, was on the sidelines prior to the game and caught up with Dick Jauron, his first head coach in the NFL, who now is the Browns’ defensive coordinator.
Bits & pieces
Armando Allen had five catches for 51 yards in the first half, including an 18-yard gain on a slant as a wide receiver, a 13-yard gain on a screen pass running behind center Edwin Williams and tackle A.J. Greene and an 11-yard touchdown that gave the Bears a 14-0 lead.
◆ Robbie Gould missed a 35-yard field goal in the first quarter, but nailed wo PATs.
◆ Lorenzo Booker rushed for 48 yards on seven carries in the first half.