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Battle brewing in receiving corps

BOURBONNAIS – Bears receiver Dane Sanzenbacher is in a familiar position this season as he heads into the second week of training camp.

Sanzenbacher, 23, is squarely on the roster bubble.

The former Ohio State Buckeye was one of the Bears’ best summertime stories in 2011 when he made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent. He went on to catch 27 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games, including one start.

However, Sanzenbacher’s job could be in jeopardy because of the addition of several new players to the Bears’ receiver corps. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Eric Weems all seem safe to make the final cut, as are Earl Bennett and Devin Hester.

If the Bears keep six receivers as they did last season, the final opening could come down to Sanzenbacher, free-agent addition Devin Thomas or a surprise rookie.

Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake said Sanzenbacher impressed him so far.

“It’s going to be tough for a lot of guys to make the team,” Drake said. “I’ll tell you what – he’s having a better camp than he had last year. He’s doing a terrific job.

“I never would count him out. ...We’re just throwing him out there and letting him play, [and] when the time comes to get it done and evaluate and make those decisions, we’ll make it.

“Right now, we’ll let him compete and he’s definitely competing.”

Rough debut: Bears defensive tackle Brian Price labored through a difficult practice on his first day in full pads since joining the team late last week.

Price (6 feet, 1 inch, 303 pounds) seemed winded on several occasions and struggled during the goal-line drill, landing face-first in the grass before slowly standing up.

Bears coach Lovie Smith was asked how Price looked on his first day.

“Just that: His first day,” Smith said. “It’s going to take a while, just like as we talk for our football team that first day.

“As much as anything, we wanted to get Brian into the mix to just let him see how it feels to be a Chicago Bear practicing. So we made that step. He set the bar today, and we’ll hopefully make progress from here.”

Green light: Jay Cutler said having the ability to call an audible would help in the season.

Last season in Mike Martz’s offense, Cutler was restricted from calling audibles.

“It makes everyone’s job a little bit easier,” Cutler said. “We can put ourselves in a good play.”


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