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Bears backup QB Matt Blanchard, a Lake Zurich product, looking to leave a mark

Matt Blanchard

Matt Blanchard

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Updated: September 10, 2013 6:25AM



There’s no telling what’s at stake for Matt Blanchard as the Bears open their preseason schedule Friday in Charlotte, N.C. He’s a No. 3 quarterback with a chance to be the No. 2. A year from now, he could be the only quarterback in camp with experience in coach Marc Trestman’s offense.

The possibilities aren’t totally up to fate because Blanchard figures to get a fair opportunity to show what he can do in the preseason. He’s a former Division III quarterback with a knack for winning football games — he was 25-0 as a starter at Wisconsin-Whitewater and had a hand in two national championships. The last team to beat him is St. Rita in the Class 7A state championship game when he was a star at Lake Zurich in 2006.

The 6-3, 225-pound Blanchard is scheduled to play ‘‘the last part of the third quarter and the fourth quarter’’ in the preseason opener against the Panthers, Trestman said.

‘‘He’s going to be heavily involved in managing the game, which is not easy to do in those times,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘It can get a little chaotic. We want to see him keep his poise, be efficient and take his time with the football.’’

It’s the poise that Trestman will be focused on.

‘‘The team will trust him, the coaches will trust him if he can go out there and take care of the football,’’ he said. ‘‘His productivity isn’t as important as his ability to play smart and do the right thing with the ball.’’

Despite the difficult circumstances of leading third-team players against third-team players in a preseason game, that bodes well for Blanchard. His accuracy makes him a good fit for Trestman’s offense. But it’s his ability to keep his cool that has made the difference under fire.

‘‘It’s just a great, great opportunity for me,’’ Blanchard said. ‘‘Coach Trestman sends a message every day: ‘You make the team in practice, and games give you added value.’ Does playing in the games help you? Absolutely. That’s what I look forward to doing.’’

Blanchard, an undrafted free agent last season, was cut before the last preseason game but was signed to the practice squad. He was waived with four weeks to go but quickly re-signed after the season.

The hiring of Trestman, a noted quarterback tutor, is a good career break for him.

‘‘No question,’’ Blanchard said. ‘‘It’s an offense that puts a lot on the quarterback’s shoulders. He’s very clear and concise about everything we do — and I’m someone who can appreciate that. It’s very transparent within our reads, within what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s very refreshing to be in a system like that.’’

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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