Dane Sanzenbacher knows what it takes to make the team.
”I learned through playing in college [that] realistically, you’ve only go to make on play in a game that people are going to remember,” the Bears wide receiver said. ”If you’re solid and you make that one play, you’re on the right track.”
Sanzenbacher was among several Bears who made plays in their preseason finale Thursday night, a 28-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns at Browns Stadium. His 30-yard touchdown reception from Josh McCown confirmed what the Bears already knew: Sanzenbacher knows how to find the end zone. In limited playing time, he led all Bears wide receivers with three touchdowns last season.
Sanzenbacher seems like a good bet for the 53-man roster if he wasn’t already on it prior to Thursday. All the other standout performers should be so fortunate. Many of them likely will end up with only the satisfaction of knowing they gave it their best shot.
Here were the other playmakers from Thursday night’s game:
Armando Allen, RB: In a presumably tight battle with Lorenzo Booker for the No. 3 — and likely final — running back spot, Allen rushed for 83 yards on 16 carries, including a 49-yard run in the second half. He also caught five passes for 51 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown. And he added a forced fumble that was recovered by punter Ryan Quigley to boot.
Booker was pretty good, too, with 81 rushing yards on 15 carries and four receptions for 16 yards. But this could be one of the few instances where the preseason finale actually made the difference.
Xavier Adibi, LB: A veteran who has played 38 games, with eight starts, in four NFL seasons, Adibi looked like a seat-filler when he arrived in mid-August after the Bears were down three linebackers to injuries. But he showed up against the Browns with five tackles in the first quarter, including a sack of Colt McCoy and a tackle-for-loss. Adibi had a team-high seven tackles overall. Still, it’s hard to find a scenario that puts him on the 53-man roster.
Greg McCoy, CB: The seventh-round pick had not been particularly impressive, especially on defense, in training camp. And he knows it didn’t look good when he missed a tackle that led to a 17-yard pass play. But he atoned for that error in a big way when he returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. It was a fortuitous play for McCoy — he tipped a pass he though he should have intercepted, and the ball went through the hands of receiver Josh Gordon, hit Gordon’s lower leg and deflected to McCoy, who returned the gift for a touchdown that orginally was ruled an incomplete pass but overturned upon review. Still, the practice squad seems like McCoy’s best bet to make the team.
Brittan Golden, WR: He atoned for a third-down drop earlier in the game in an even more fortunate fashion than McCoy. After linebacker Patrick Trahan forced a blocked punt when he blocked his man into the punter, the ball bounced into the air, where Golden retrieved it and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. Still, the practice squad seems like Golden’s best bet as well.
Jeremy Jones, S: Lost in the shuffle even with all the injured safeties in camp, Jones made the most of his last-ditch effort with an outstanding interception and 13-yard return that set up Josh McCown’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Sanzenbacher that gave the Bears a 7-0 lead.
Cheta Ozougwu, DE: Had four tackles, including his third sack of the preseason and a quarterback hurry. If the Bears can find room for him, somebody is going to be surprisingly cut.
Will it make a difference. The odds are against them. But at least they went down swinging.
”I don’t know how things are going to turn out,” McCoy said. ”I’ll be waiting by the phone like the rest of the guys. It’s all I can do. It’s not in my hands anymore.”