Sanzenbacher jumps at new opportunity

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A strange turn of events Sunday moved second-year receiver Dane Sanzenbacher into the starting lineup for the Chicago Bears.

He’s not complaining, though.

“It’s great. I think as many reps as you can get with those guys, the better,” Sanzenbacher said. “Obviously you want to be out there getting that rhythm. It’s one thing to be on the field, but it’s different being with a different group of receivers, different quarterbacks. So the more you get with that first team and start to get that chemistry going, it helps.”

Sanzenbacher worked with the first team Sunday because starter Earl Bennett suffered a leg injury during an early portion of the workout. Earlier in the day, Bennett’s primary backup Devin Thomas announced he had decided to retire.

That meant more first-team repetitions for Sanzenbacher, while undrafted rookie Brittan Golden worked with the second team. Bears coach Lovie Smith said Sanzenbacher continues to impress the coaching staff.

“(He’s making a) big impression, the same type he made last year coming in as an undrafted free agent and earning a spot on the roster,” Smith said. He’s improved his play just in general. He picks up things pretty quickly. We’re pleased with him. He should have a good shot with our team.”

Sanzenbacher played in every game as a rookie in 2011 with one start and caught 27 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first undrafted rookie since 1983 to post multiple TD catches. Sanzenbacher was also the franchise’s first undrafted rookie to catch touchdowns in back-to-back contests (Week 2 against New Orleans and Week 3 against Green Bay).

But despite the promising early-season showings, Sanzenbacher tied Roy Williams for the team lead in dropped passes (7).

“I have just as much to prove (as last year) I feel like,” Sanzenbacher said. “You go into the locker room on your family day and you still don’t have a guaranteed locker yet. It’s the same situation, just a year down the road.”