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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Mailbag: Why no Enderle at workouts?

By Jeff Dickerson

Nathan Enderle
Fifth-round pick Nathan Enderle has been working out in Idaho to prepare for his rookie season.
I read your article about Andy Fantuz attending the Bears workouts last week, but I was wondering if Nate Enderle is also throwing passes at these workouts? Seems to me that if I was a rookie quarterback, I'd jump at the chance to learn from the veterans and throw passes to receivers like Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. -- Vince, Country Club Hills, Ill.
A: No, so far Enderle has not participated in any of the offseason workouts led by Jay Cutler. My understanding is the Bears' fifth-round pick has been working out diligently in Idaho in preparation for the season. However Vince, you bring up a good point. It probably would be a good idea for Enderle to join the workouts, assuming the lockout remains in place for the immediate future which would make these unofficial offensive player gatherings still a necessity. Not only would it be a nice way for Enderle to meet his new teammates, like Fantuz did last week, but he could certainly pick up some things being around Cutler and Caleb Hanie in these practice-type settings. If the lockout continues to linger, I'd say there is a decent chance Enderle arrives in town and begins the process of developing chemistry with the Bears receivers and fellow quarterbacks.

JD, Andy Fantuz? Are you serious? Has the lockout caused you to go mad? Who cares about a CFL receiver who probably won't even make the team. Talk to me about Plaxico Burress or Chad Ochocinco, but not Andy Fantuz. What's wrong with you? -- Jack, Bridgeport, Ill.
A: Jack, what is there to talk about when it comes to veteran free agent wide receivers right now? The Bears can't sign anybody until there is labor peace -- which may be on the horizon -- so why not report on a player you are actually guaranteed to see in action at Bears camp. Nobody is saying that Fantuz is a slam dunk to make the roster or make an immediate impact in 2011, but you have to admit, he's an interesting player with a proven track record of success in the CFL. Now, the CFL is much different from the NFL, but the guy did rack up pretty big numbers the past five years in Canada. So at the very least, Fantuz has my attention.

At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, he's got the size the Bears are looking for to complement smaller wideouts Hester and Knox. I like the fact Fantuz arrived in town last week to meet Cutler, Hanie and the rest of the wide receivers, and the reviews of his performance were fairly positive. Obviously, he's new to the offense and new to running these specific types of routes, but several players in attendance mentioned Fantuz's impressive size, athleticism and pass-catching ability.

There will be plenty of time to lust after big-name free agents the Bears probably won't sign. You'll get your fill of Burress, Ochocinco, Randy Moss, Santonio Holmes, etc. once the lockout ends. Fantuz isn't a big name, but he's a big receiver who's already under contract with the Bears. We'll see if he pans out, but one thing is for certain: He will definitely be a player to watch in training camp and the preseason.

Matt Toeaina
Matt Toeaina had 33 tackles, two sacks and seven quarterback pressures last season.
Is it just me, or did Matt Toeaina have a good year for the Bears last season? I loved watching Toeaina plug up the middle and hope to see more of him next year. Was I seeing things, or is he good? -- Tyler, Kewanee, Ill.
A: Actually, I think Toeaina is a solid member of the Bears yet-to-be-fully-determined rotation at the defensive tackle spot. I've had more than one player tell me in the offseason that Toeaina's improved play was one reason the Bears removed Tommie Harris from the starting lineup for much of 2010. Toeaina signed a modest extension with the Bears prior to the end of last season, so he's clearly in their plans on the defensive line. I don't know if he'll ever reach the level of being considered an elite defensive tackle, but it won't be for a lack of effort. Toeaina has put in a ton of work in the offseason, and he will be physically ready when camp begins. If he stays healthy, I see no reason why he can't mirror or exceed his 2010 statistics of 33 tackles, two sacks and seven quarterback pressures.

Lifetime NIU Huskies fan who's worried about Garrett Wolfe. Will he play again in the NFL? Because right now, I'd say it's not looking good. -- Fred, Hickory Hills, Ill.
A: Fred, I would certainly hope a team signs Wolfe considering his value on special teams, but it's impossible to know for sure until the running back's legal issues are settled. It was obvious Wolfe wasn't in the Bears' plans moving forward when the team failed to issue him a restricted free agent tender before the lockout began, but I always assumed he would latch on to another organization once football related activities resumed. Right now, I guess we can call his football future cloudy at best.

But here is what I do know. We live in a society where people are guilty until proven innocent, not the other way around like it's supposed to be. Up to this point, we've only heard the Miami Beach police's account of what happened that night in the South Beach club. When the time is right, I'm fairly certain Wolfe will tell his side of the story, and then it will be up to each person or NFL team to decide what they believe to be the truth. So until I have all the facts, or at least both sides of the story, I can't say for sure which way it's going to break for Wolfe. But having covered Wolfe since 2007, and I think my colleagues on the Bears beat would agree, the type of behavior Wolfe is being accused of on the night in question is out of his character. That's why I feel strongly there is more to this story than any of us know. I could be wrong, but that's how I feel.

How much roster flexibility will Jerry Angelo have to go after free agents when that time arrives? -- Chase, Chicago
A: Plenty. Right now, the Bears have 47 veteran players under contract, five rookies who will receive contracts, and a handful of players given restricted free agent tenders (Danieal Manning, Corey Graham, Nick Roach, Kahlil Bell, Hanie, etc). So Angelo has plenty of room to re-sign his own veterans, add a few veterans via free agency and fill out the roster with undrafted rookie free agents.