Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.
Tomczak wins with Cruz out
Originally published Aug. 20, 1985
If the Bears keep three quarterbacks – “as we plan on doing,” coach Mike Ditka said – they will keep Mike Tomczak.
Tomczak emerged the winner from the first mandatory roster cuts yesterday when the only surprising cut was Ken Cruz, his competitor at quarterback.
“Kenny probably took it as hard as anybody, and he probably was the hardest for me to release,” Ditka said. He made the move to give Cruz a better chance of catching on elsewhere and because most of the practice time this week will go to Jim McMahon and Steve Fuller.
Tomczak, who starred at Thornton Fractional North and Ohio State, “did everything he could” in the Bears’ exhibition loss to Indianapolis Saturday, Ditka said. “He threw the ball well. He ran out of bounds. He scrambled. He ran well.”
Ditka said the Bears will not look for another quarterback.
They will look for another punter to challenge disappointing Dave Finzer, the only one still on the squad. That’s why they trimmed the roster to 59, one below the maximum. But Ditka said, “A lot of teams are looking for punters.”
HURRY AND WAIT: Wide receiver Brian Baschnagel said he won’t pull back on his rehabilitation schedule, even though his placement on injured reserve means he won’t make his goal of playing in the last exhibition a week from Saturday. Baschnagel had arthroscopic knee surgery three weeks ago.
Other veterans put on injured reserve were safety Jeff Fisher (ankle), tight end Mitch Krenk (back) and linebacker Dan Rains (knee). Fisher played Saturday night but said he expects to have surgery for bone spurs on his ankle.
During the season, the Bears can activate one player who went on injured reserve in training camp without the risk of losing him. Otherwise, training camp additions to injured reserve can be activated only after they’re irrevocably offered to all other NFL teams.
Ditka acknowledged Baschnagel was the most logical free move back to the active roster, but he said, “It depends on who else goes on injured reserve.” It also depends on when and where the Bears first lose a player to injured reserve during the season.
Players on injured reserve can practice. In the case of Baschnagel, who should be the first player ready to practice, that means the Bears can carry four wide receivers and still have the five Ditka likes for practice.
Had the roster limit stayed at 49 instead of 45, the Bears might have kept Baschnagel active as a fifth wide receiver. Either way, they have to pay him. It’s another example of how the lowered roster limit may not save as much money as owners hope.
The Bears put two rookies on injured reserve, wide receiver Keith Ortego (knee) and guard-tackle Joe Rammuno (back).
HOLDOUT UPDATE: Middle linebacker Mike Singletary planned to visit Halas Hall today to resolve his three-week contract holdout, a source told the Sun-Times.
General Manager Jerry Vainisi talked for an hour Sunday night with Singletary’s agent, Tom Williams, but reported no progress. Vainisi said he would not try to trade Singletary or fellow holdout Todd Bell and tried to trade Al Harris only before Harris’ holdout. “We give in to the principle if we trade a guy based on a contract dispute,” Vainisi said.
He hasn’t talked with Harris since Harris’ father told him Thursday night that Harris planned to become a minister.
It’s still earlier than Bell’s agent, Howard Slusher, characteristically brings negotiations to a final confrontation.
OUT OF BOUNDS: The Bears’ wideout picture “doesn’t look as good as I thought it would,” Ditka said.
“We’ve got to be able to threaten people with outside receivers, and right now, I’m not sure we can threaten anybody. We’re not getting off the ball nearly as well as we have to and we need better blocking downfield.”
Brad Anderson and Willie Gault have been the only experienced wide receivers healthy throughout camp. Starter Dennis McKinnon’s recovery from July 5 knee arthroscopy has been slower than he and Ditka anticipated.
With Anderson the only healthy flanker, Ditka said he would move rookie James Maness and Jack Cameron to that side, leaving Gault, Ken Margerum and Brent DuHon on the weak side.
CHILD’S PLAY: Ditka was exasperated by basic mistakes Margerum and halfback Dennis Gentry made as pass receivers Saturday night.
Margerum caught a sideline pass near halftime, when the Bears were hoping to set up a long field goal attempt for Kevin Butler, but he didn’t go out of bounds and stop the clock.
“All he had to do was catch it and step out of bounds,” Ditka said. “He runs in. Where you gonna go with it?”
Gentry ran a two-yard pass route on third-and-five.
“We don’t have a two-yard pass pattern,” Ditka said. “Those things shouldn’t happen.”