An injury to Bears backup Quarterback Caleb Hanie leaves the team a little thin at the game's most important position.
The Chicago Bears are taking out a Want Ad: "Help Wanted: A backup quarterback, experience is necessary."
Saturday's Bears preseason game was big for backup quarterback Caleb Hanie. It was a chance to prove the Bears didn't need to sign a veteran with experience in Mike Martz's system. Until he sprained his shoulder getting sacked in the second quarter.
"It's never fun to be hurt and obviously the preseason is time for me to show mys kill set and how I progressed," Hanie said Monday with his right arm in a black sling. "I feel I did a good job of at least some progress int he first game and making some good throws with the top group in there, moving around and avoiding pressure."
But not good enough according to Bears head coach Lovie Smith. "We scored 10points, so we're not really talking about the good performances we had. We're not where we need to be. None of us."
Shorthanded in Monday's practice, Jay Cutler and third string quarterback, rookie Dan LeFevour, split all the reps. After throwing a handful of interceptions on Monday alone, LeFevour appears to be more of a practice squad project.
"Right now I'm getting plenty of reps, getting a lot more than I was getting so I have to take advantage of this opportunity and do the most I can with it," said the 6th round pick out of Central Michigan. "It's challenging as a rookie coming in learning a new offense, going under center, all those things. I just got to keep learning and take advantage of my reps."
Lovie Smith put his arm around the rookie QB after practice offering words of encouragement, yet admitted the Bears may need not only healthy bodies taking snaps, but someone with experience.
"We'll look at all options, in an ideal world he would have some experience," he said.
There's experience like free agent Jeff Garcia who is available. And then there's experience in Mike Martz's complicated offense.
Those quarterbacks are even tougher to find. Kurt Warner is retired, but still had one year left on his Arizona contract so the Cardinals still hold his rights. Trent Green? The Bears reportedly inquired, but his agent tells the Chicago Sun-Times he's happy working in TV. Josh McCown played for Martz, too, but is playing in the UFL for Hartford.
"There is no out for Josh," said McCown's agent Mike McCartney.
Even Brett Basanez and Mike Teel who had Martz' playbook in Bears mini camp and training camp were both given injury settlements and placed on IR. They could be taken off the Injured List but could sign with any team, but the Bears.
Who's left? This is why Jerry Angelo hired Tim Ruskell, Director of Player Personnel, to find out.
TRAINING CAMP NOTES:
* Rookie Safety Major Wright led the Bears with 7 tackles in Saturday's preseason opener, but will be sidelined for this week's game against Oakland. Wright fractured his left index finger and will undergo surgery Tuesday.
* Safefty Craig Steltz suffered a shoulder sprain, but will not need surgery.
* The Bears are not ruling out Caleb Hanie, Craig Steltz or Major Wright for their regular season opener September 12th against Detroit.