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Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Benching Hanie an unlikely outcome

By Michael C. Wright

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Bears coach Lovie Smith immediately dismissed any notion of the team potentially benching quarterback Caleb Hanie if he struggles Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

It’s not even a thought the team plans to entertain.

Caleb Hanie
Caleb Hanie has six interceptions in two starts this season.

“That’s going into the game expecting something bad to happen,” Smith explained. “That way of thinking, we just don’t have that. I’m looking at Caleb Hanie going into that game having success and doing a lot of good things and leading us to a win. We spend most of our time concentrating on that.”

Undoubtedly, Hanie has struggled in two starts filling in for starter Jay Cutler. In addition to losing his first two starts, the quarterback has thrown six interceptions in back-to-back losses, finishing Sunday’s 10-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with a passer rating of 23.8.

Still, Hanie’s teammates continue to rally around him and show support.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz, said “I don’t have any qualms about Caleb,” adding that the thought of replacing him “truly has never crossed my mind.”

Hanie said on Wednesday that he’s comfortable with the offense, and hasn’t lost confidence despite a couple of shaky outings.

“I think there’s an assumption that we’re laying this on his shoulders,” Martz said. “When you go back and look at it, there’s reasons for everything that happened. He’s not making mental errors. He’s sharp with everything. He’s learning under the gun so to speak. We’ve got to get ihm into the game a little bit earlier. [We’re] probably a little bit still too conservative with him. He’s capable of more than probably what we’ve done with him. So we’ll be a little more aggressive with him.”

The hope is Hanie responds.