BOURBONNAIS, Ill. Dane Sanzenbacher got up Sunday morning ready to fight the same uphill battle hes had for two training camps now to make the roster of the Chicago Bears. He was a major surprise last year, so perhaps its just a little fitting that he got a major surprise around lunch time.
Thats when it became official that receiverspecial teamer Devin Thomas was retiring. It came without warning but left in its aftermath an improved opportunity for Sanzenbacher.
Thomas was becoming an increasing longshot to make the roster, with lackluster play and little impact in practice not what the Bears expected with they signed him last March.
As that has been happening, Sanzenbacher has quietly done exactly what he did last training camp when he made the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State.
Sanzenbacher has made a big impression, coach Lovie Smith said. The same type he made last year, coming in as an undrafted free agent and earning a spot on the roster. He has a role, what he can do: Quick receiver in the slot. Shows up every day. Hes a good football player.
A key for Sanzenbacher and any player without a spot near the top of the depth chart at his position will be special teams. Sanzenbacher has been deployed as a punt returner with Devin Hester resting a sore ankle, although Sanzenbacher averaged just 4.9 yards on seven returns last preseason.
He also cycled in with the No. 1 and 2 offenses Sunday with Eric Weems in uniform but still not up to full speed enough to practice on a sore ankle.
Its great, Sanzenbacher said. I think as many reps as you can get with those guys, the better. Obviously you want to be out there getting in that rhythm.
Its one thing to be on the field but its different being with a different group of receivers, different quarterbacks. So the more you get out there with that first group and start to get that chemistry going, it helps out.
High School Lites is back with an exciting Week 9 full of thrilling matchups. NBC Sports Chicago has the highlights of some of the top matchups from Friday's games.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPREPS for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights.
DRIVE: Batavia (episode 9)
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Oak Forest football
VIEWERS' CHOICE GAMES OF THE WEEK: Fremd runs past Schaumburg
WINTRUST ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Notre Dame running back Ty Gavin
FRIDAY'S TOP 25 SCORES
(1) Lincoln-Way East 31, (16) Bolingbrook 0
(2) Batavia 24, Wheaton North 13
(3) Brother Rice 31, (17) Montini 0
(4) Marist 24, Benet 7
(6) Homewood-Flossmoor 56, Sandburg 0
(7) Cary-Grove 55, (15) Naperville Central 41
(9) Nazareth Academy 42, Marian Catholic 6
(10) Maine South 48, Niles West 6
(11) Oswego 22, Plainfield South 15
(12) Richards 41, Eisenhower 6
(13) Phillips 41, Raby 0
(14) Willowbrook 42, Downers South 20
(18) Oak Park-River Forest 48, Lyons 0
(19) Warren 43, Mundelein 7
(20) Glenbard West 35, Proviso West 6
(21) Hillcrest 43, Bremen 6
Joliet Catholic 33, (22) Notre Dame 17
(23) Hinsdale Central 21, Hinsdale South 12
(24) Rolling Meadows 34, Buffalo Grove 7
Wheaton Warrenville South 13, (25) St. Charles North 11
Payton 43, Kenwood 42
Coal City 43, Lisle 14
Huntley 55, Dundee-Crown 12
Perspectives 32, Solorio 16
SATURDAY'S TOP 25 GAMES
Fenwick vs. (5) Mount Carmel
(8) Simeon vs. Curie
Chris Emma, Matt Zahn and Gabe Ramirez join David Kaplan on the panel.
0:00- NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh joins the panel to discuss the Bulls’ terrible defensive performance as well as Zach LaVine’s impressive season debut.
11:35- Khalil Mack is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Can the Bears pull off the upset against Tom Brady?
23:50- NBC Sports Boston Patriots insider Tom E. Curran joins Kap to talk about how New England views the Bears and discuss how Matt Nagy’s team can exploit the Patriots’ weaknesses.
Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below.