CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 18: Dane Sanzenbacher #18 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The last week before the NFL's regular season starts is nerve-wracking for players on the team's roster bubble. That means sleepless nights are ahead for Dane Sanzenbacher, Lorenzo Booker and Armando Allen.
Sanzenbacher impressed early in 2011, but then struggled as the season wore on. His biggest problem is not that he has worsened, but that the Bears' receiving corps has improved. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Eric Weems were all added to the team. Rashied Davis, a former Bear who is a monster on special teams, was brought back.
Though Sanzenbacher has Jay Cutler's approval, he does not have a guaranteed roster spot. Still, he won't spend too much time worrying.
"It's not something that if you stress about it's going to help the situation," Sanzenbacher said. "You need to stay focused on what your job is and go out and execute in the games and put your best foot forward. Sitting there, up at night stressing about it is not going to help. Staying focused on everything, trying to do your job, trying to excel at practice and standing out. That's what is going to help you."
Special teams will also tell the tale of who makes the team at running back. Most NFL teams carry three running backs on the roster, and Kahlil Bell's release left the door open for Armando Allen or Lorenzo Booker to make the team. Booker had two impressive kick returns in pre-season games but hasn't shown the same ability to block or participate in the other phases of special teams as Allen. Their numbers on receptions and carries are about the same.
Like Sanzenbacher, Allen is trying to stay focused on the task in front of him.
"At the end of the day you can only control what you can control, so that's just me staying focused and going out there and trying to be on the right page," Allen said. "(I'm) just trying to show up on special teams. Let them know I can be a special teams guy. Show them I can go out there and block bigger guys and just go out there and show a lot of effort and show them I know what to do with my assignments."
Every Bear will find out his fate on Friday, when they will cut their roster from 75 to 53.