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Hanie open to playing elsewhere

THE CHEAT SHEET

super BOWL XLV

PACKERS VS. STEELERS

Line: Packers by 21/2. Total: 441/2.

Records (overall/ATS): Packers 13-6/12-7; Steelers 14-4/12-6.

Fast facts: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has a 126.3 passer rating in seven indoor games the last two seasons (16 TDs, 1 INT) — with a low of 110.6.

Outlook: In a matchup of mirror-image teams, the most certain key to the game is which will get the lucky bounce. Stopping the run is no guarantee of slowing either Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger. Both average 100-plus passer ratings when their team rushes below its average, and both can handle a fierce pass rush — Roethlisberger was sacked five times by the Packers last year and threw for 503 yards and three TDs in a 37-36 victory. Steelers are 6-1 SU/5-2 ATS under Mike Tomlin with more than a week to prepare; Packers are 5-1 SU/6-0 ATS under Mike McCarthy in the same circumstance. Though they rank 1-2 in scoring defense, both offenses have intimate knowledge of the other’s defense — hence the 73 points in the 2009 matchup. Steelers’ aggressiveness downfield on first down could put pressure on Packers DBs; Packers were called for six defensive penalties against the Steelers last year and five defensive penalties against the Falcons and Matt Ryan in the divisional playoff (compared to one against the Bears two weeks ago). Is it possible anti-Roethlisberger sentiment has skewed the line? Late wise-guy money on the Steelers could tilt it back by game time. Two props to keep in mind: the over on 531/2 points is +280; overtime is +800.

Mark Potash

THE EXPERTS

Mark Potash: Steelers 31, Packers 28.

Marc Silverman, WMVP-AM: Packers 24, Steelers 20.

Doug Buffone, WSCR-AM: Steelers 21, Packers 17.

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



DALLAS — Caleb Hanie wouldn’t mind being a Bear again. But he’d rather play elsewhere so he can compete for a starting job.

‘‘If I didn’t have any better options, I would love to stay,’’ Hanie said Thursday. ‘‘I love Chicago, and the organization has been good to me. But if an opportunity comes up, I wouldn’t shy away from that.’’

Hanie is a restricted free agent, which means the Bears can match any offer for him and limit his mobility. They likely would place a tender on him that would net them a second-round pick if a team signs him away. In 2010, that tender was worth $1.75 million, significantly higher than the $390,000 he earned.

Undrafted out of Colorado State, Hanie was the third-string quarterback, but he entered the NFC title game after Jay Cutler was injured and veteran Todd Collins was benched. He made the game interesting, leading two touchdown drives. But he also was intercepted twice, including one that was returned by Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji for a touchdown.

‘‘You always have that confidence in yourself, but you have to prove to yourself and everyone else that the doubt is gone,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m in my third year, and it’s when guys make that transition and compete for jobs.

‘‘But if I had to stick around, if they put a tender on me, I would be fine with that.’’

Hanie said he has appreciated his friendship with Cutler, particularly when he was demoted from backup to third-string around midseason.

‘‘It was hard,’’ he said. ‘‘I didn’t say much. Just went about my business as usual, and I tried to get better. But Jay was very supportive. He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ He was encouraging. He reiterated his belief in me.’’

Hanie said Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz was ‘‘rough on me.’’

‘‘He didn’t take it easy, so that was helpful,’’ Hanie said, noting his confidence in learning one of the more difficult offenses in the NFL.

As for Cutler, Hanie said he’s ‘‘shocked’’ by critics saying Cutler lacks toughness.

‘‘I’m sure it stings a little bit, especially from his peers,’’ Hanie said. ‘‘But he’s fine. I’m sure he’s moved on. He’s a professional, and he knows this comes with the territory.’’

Pouncey sits out

The Pittsburgh Steelers may be down another starting offensive lineman. Center Maurkice Pouncey didn’t participate Thursday, receiving treatment for his injured left ankle while teammates practiced.

‘‘It’s getting to be witching hour for Maurkice,’’ Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

Doug Legursky would make his first NFL start at center if Pouncey can’t play.

Meanwhile, for the Green Bay Packers, receiver Donald Driver missed practice with a thigh injury. Packers coach Mike McCarthy suggested it was a precautionary decision.

Linebacker Erik Walden also didn’t practice.

Bears’ grass 3rd worst

In a survey of 1,619 NFL players, Soldier Field came in with the third-worst grass field in the league. Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field was voted the worst. The top-rated grass field belonged to the Arizona Cardinals (University of Phoenix Stadium).



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