Chicago Bears

Bates: Cutler is a ‘Pro Bowl quarterback’

LAKE FOREST – Bears quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is eager to work with Jay Cutler again.

“I think he’s got great talent,” Bates said Sunday at Halas Hall. “He’s a Pro Bowl quarterback.”

Bates would know.

Cutler enjoyed his best NFL season in 2008, when Bates was his position coach with the Denver Broncos. Cutler threw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns to earn the only Pro Bowl selection of his career.

The Bears acquired Cutler in April 2009, and Bates left Denver to become the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at USC under Pete Carroll. Bates followed Carroll the next season to the Seattle Seahawks, where he was hired as the team’s offensive coordinator.

Bates’ stint in Seattle lasted only one season.

In February, the Bears hired Bates to replace Shane Day and reunited him with his star pupil.

“He’s still the same quarterback,” Bates said of Cutler. “[He] has a great arm. I think the experience of any profession, or anything you do, the more times you do it, you grow with it, both good and bad.

“He has definitely matured as a player, because he’s had good games and bad games, and you get better every game. So the more experience and the more snaps, you’re always going to get better at your craft.”

Make it count: Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said less could be more when it comes to Devin Hester’s role in the offense.

“The talent has always been there,” Drake said. “It’s just a matter of not having him play 70 plays a game. Throw to him twice. Play him 15, let him touch it 13. That’s always been my stance. …

“In order for him to be effective, we don’t need him out there for that many plays.”

Hester, 29, caught 26 passes for 369 yards and one touchdown in 16 games in 2011.

Sticking around: The Bears signed seven undrafted rookies late Sunday after they participated in a three-day minicamp on a tryout basis.

The additions included quarterback Matt Blanchard (Wisconsin-Whitewater), who played at Lake Zurich, and tight end Brandon Venson (Illinois State), who played at Glenbard West.

The other five rookies to sign with the Bears included wide receiver Joe Anderson (Texas Southern), offensive tackle Tyler Hendrickson (Concordia), guard Nick Pieschel (Central Florida), punter Ryan Quigley (Boston College) and kicker David Teggart (Connecticut).

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