When I started to think about the Chicago Bears training camp, I had positions at the forefront of my mind. Second corner. Third safety. Third linebacker. Back end of defensive line. Offensive tackle. Never, not once, did I think we'd see a newspaper article (never mind about 7) about Caleb Hanie's status as the backup quarterback. Especially considering the only man challenging him for his position is Idaho's Nathan Enderle.
But that is exactly what has happened. Watching the sideline interactions Saturday night between Mike Martz and Caleb Hanie made one thing abundantly clear: Martz is not thrilled with his backup quarterback. As Hanie puts it:
‘‘Mike’s done that before with me; last season in training camp, too,’’ Hanie said. ‘‘Mike’s tough on his backup quarterbacks. It’s been his m.o. his whole career. I’m glad he is because it pushes me and makes me better.’’
Every kid on the playground knows one universal truth. Pushing someone is fine. Cracking him in the jaw means 'game on'. And demoting Hanie off his disappointing performance in the first meaningless game of 2011 was inching its way close to a closed fist to the chin.
Folks around here like to say the Bears stay luckily unscathed injury-wise last season. Poppycock! That would be true if you didn't count losing their best offensive weapon (#6) at intervals due to a toll booth of an offensive line. And losing him for the second half of the NFC Championship Game might have been the biggest injury blow to a franchise all season. We would all prefer the only action Hanie see all season be mop duty during a couple of blowout victories over the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers (how they will be referred to on this site until it is no longer true). But while I expect rampant improvement from the offensive line, it would be a bit unfair to expect one of the league's worst units to become one of the league's best in one non-existent offseason.
The Bears need their backup quarterback ready and they need Hanie confident. If Nathan Enderle ever takes a snap in a regular season game for the Chicago Bears, the car has ventured well off the road. Hanie must be put in the position to succeed, even if it's only for the next three meaningless games.
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