Hanie To Get His Opportunites Tonight.............
Hanie will get chance in exhibitions
Bears backup QB should see ample time before Cutler takes over for real
http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...8/63944275.jpg Caleb Hanie drops back to pass. (Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images / August 6, 2011)
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By Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune reporter 10:30 p.m. CDT, August 12, 2011
BOURBONNAIS — Caleb Hanie didn't exactly receive a vote of confidence, at least not during the offseason.
As the Bears quarterback pondered his limited option as a restricted free agent, he was well aware offensive coordinator Mike Martz still had doubt about him as the team's backup quarterback.
When asked in February if Hanie had secured the No. 2 spot behind Jay Cutler, Martz responded, "I don't know. We will see.''
Hanie wasn't bothered.
"I didn't see the whole context of the stuff, so I wasn't quick to judge,'' Hanie said. "Obviously, you see that stuff, though. You have so many family and friends sending you stories and links while asking, `What is Mike saying.'
"If I play well, Mike's going to reward me. If I do what he wants me to do, he's going to put his faith in me. And I feel like I'm on my way.''
Martz expressed confidence in Hanie earlier this week, the day before Hanie had a miserable, five-interception performance during Thursday night's power-outage practice.
"He's our backup,'' Martz said, "but he's still a work in progress. He still has to iron some things out, and we're going to try to get that done in the preseason. The only way you fix it is by playing. He just has to play.''
The exhibition schedule, starting with Saturday night's game against Buffalo at Soldier Field, should give Hanie ample opportunity to solidify his standing. He first caught the eyes of Bears fans with strong exhibition performances, including his 8 of 11 passing for 87 yards and a score in a 2009 loss in Buffalo.
"I just need to get myself ready, get prepared like it's a normal game,'' Hanie said of Saturday. "I have to be ready for their blitz. I have to make good decisions, get the ball out quick … don't try to do anything extra. Just run the offense.''
That was the same mindset Hanie had during the NFC championship game, when he stepped in for an injured Cutler. Hanie completed 13 of 20 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown and would have been the city's hero if not for two interceptions, one Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji returned for a touchdown.
"It's pretty much out of my mind,'' Hanie said. "Obviously, I'll see something on TV or a clip from it and there will be a flashback. But it's not something I'm thinking about daily. I'm not dwelling on the loss or dwelling on some good plays I might have had.
"But once I have a taste of that, I want more. I want more of the highest level of competition you can get. It's motivation in that I still have the taste of that game in me and don't want to sit all season.''
Of course, Hanie will have to wait patiently behind his late-night Taco Bell partner, Cutler.
Hanie figured he might get a shot to play elsewhere, but the long lockout meant a restricted free-agent market never developed. In the second day of free agency, a few teams reached out and basically told Hanie they had to complete all their transactions first before they could get back to him.
Hanie signed a one-year tender worth $1.2 million to remain as Cutler's backup. At 25, Hanie has plenty of time to grow into the position.
"There are times when he's missing some throws that he shouldn't because he's just not setting himself right and he's still moving,'' Martz said. "You just say it to him and he can fix it like that. … Those are the kinds of things where he needs to get into games and get through and feel the speed of the game.
"He certainly has the ability. He's a tough guy. He's smart. He has all the qualities to be a starter in the league, eventually. But he has to go out and do it now.''
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