Bears backup Caleb Hanie looking out for No. 2
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org August 20, 2011 7:56PM
Backup quarterback Caleb Hanie knows there are some things he has to focus on against the Giants. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: November 3, 2011 11:53AM
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Before he stepped onto the practice field at Olivet Nazarene University, Bears backup quarterback Caleb Hanie acknowledged the fragility of his job security.
‘‘I’m never going to look at it like it’s settled,’’ Hanie said during one of the first days of training camp, when he couldn’t practice for six days because of the terms of the new collective-bargaining agreement. ‘‘Anything can change in this league.
‘‘Obviously, I’m working against rookies right now. But any day, they can bring someone else in. I’m working against myself. If I’m not performing the way they want and there’s not another guy on the roster, they’ll bring someone else in.’’
After a few shaky practices and a mediocre preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, Hanie’s second-string snaps were given to fifth-round pick Nathan Enderle, whom coach Lovie Smith said played well against the Bills. Hanie was none too pleased and left the practice field, but he and offensive coordinator Mike Martz hashed things out.
‘‘You just want to roll through training camp with your focus completely on the offense and getting better,’’ Hanie said. ‘‘Any outside stuff just hinders your thought process.’’
Besides, Hanie joked that a quarterback has to listen to Martz with ‘‘a filtered ear.’’
‘‘And take it from there,’’ he said.
Hanie said he has no hard feelings toward Martz, noting that he read one of Kurt Warner’s books, which explained how the coordinator was particularly demanding on backup quarterbacks. Warner had been a backup to Trent Green with the St. Louis Rams before stepping in when Green got injured and leading the Rams to a Super Bowl victory.
After Hanie injured his shoulder in the preseason opener last season, the Bears brought in Todd Collins, who remained their No. 2 quarterback despite dreadful play in a couple of games. After starter Jay Cutler left the NFC Championship Game with a Grade II tear of his medial collateral ligament, Collins again struggled and was replaced by Hanie, who led two touchdown drives but threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
‘‘I think about it all the time,’’ Hanie said. ‘‘It was a critical play they made in the game. Tough look, but I still have to be able to beat every look they throw at me.’’
Therein lies one of Hanie’s greatest challenges: making good decisions consistently.
This training camp, Hanie has made some special plays, but he also has thrown more than 10 interceptions. Against the Bills, after Johnny Knox returned a kickoff 70 yards, Hanie took consecutive sacks to knock the Bears out of field-goal range.
During his conversation with Martz, Hanie said he was told to trust his reads and be more decisive. So those will be his chief goals when he plays Monday against the New York Giants.
‘‘Make quick decisions and trusting myself,’’ Hanie said. ‘‘That’s all I’m trying to do.’’
Contributing: Mark Potash