|ESPN.com: NFC North||[Print without images]|
I know we've been a bit Chicago-heavy in recent days. (Did you ever think it would come to that?) But I teased an item last week about the Bears' apparent confidence in second-year quarterback Caleb Hanie, and far be it from me to disappoint anyone.
Coach Lovie Smith said at the scouting combine that he wouldn't be opposed to pitting Hanie against newcomer Brett Basanez for the right to back up starter Kyle Orton. (Assuming Orton isn't traded to Denver for Jay Cutler. UPDATE: He was.) The Bears aren't known to have expressed interest in any free agent quarterback, and after watching Hanie in mini-camp two weeks ago, Smith seemed more committed than ever.
Speaking at the NFL owners meeting last week, Smith said:
"I never look at it, hey, veteran, that's what you have to have. I think you need a good player that you feel comfortable in that role as a backup, and Caleb Hanie, we think he has good talent. He hasn't played a lot, but eventually you have to go with young players that haven't played a lot. We're keeping our options open. Can't rule out [a veteran]. To me, right now until you establish that roster, we're looking at everyone."
Yes, things could always change -- if Hanie falls on his face during spring drills or in training camp. Otherwise, it seems the Bears are prepared to take the plunge into youth.