Backup quarterback controversy brewing in Bears camp?

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — There appears to be a quarterback controversy brewing at Bears training camp, and it has nothing to do with Jay Cutler.

Backup quarterback Caleb Hanie, who had his moments in Saturday's 10-3 exhibition win over the Bills, watched from the sideline Monday as his snaps dwindled. Rookie Nathan Enderle took all the second-team reps behind Cutler during full-team drills and 7-on-7 action.

Hanie wasn't happy. His frustration was evident in his facial expression. He declined to talk to reporters as he left the practice field.

Bears coach Lovie Smith clarified the situation.

"After you play a game, your reps change a little bit based on what you've done," Smith said. "We got Nathan Enderle a couple more reps today with the 2s. He did some good things in the game. He hadn't really gotten a lot of reps in practice."


Until Monday.

In Saturday's exhibition, Hanie completed 3 of 7 passes for 32 yards and a passer rating of 56.8. He was sacked three times after taking over for Cutler and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run.

Enderle completed 7 of 10 passes for 110 yards with an interception and passer rating of 66.7. He was sacked five times.

"He did a few things (Saturday)," Smith said of Enderle. "We want to see what he can do when he gets a few more reps in practice.

"Caleb didn't play as well as I thought he did initially. Again, first preseason game. All the guys will get better."

Most figured Hanie had secured the backup role with his solid showing in the NFC championship game in place of the injured Cutler. But a month after the title game, offensive coordinator Mike Martz said, "We'll see," when asked if Hanie would be the backup in 2011.

Martz changed his stance last week, proclaiming Hanie his No. 2 guy. Martz also pointed out the flaws in Hanie's game.

"There are some times when he's missing some throws that he shouldn't because he's just not setting himself right," Martz told the Tribune last week. "What he's doing with his eyes (and) technical stuff ... the only way you fix it is by playing."


Remember, Martz wasn't completely sold on Hanie before the start of the '10 season, which is why the Bears signed veteran Todd Collins. And Martz personally worked out Enderle at the University of Idaho before the Bears selected him in the fifth round of this year's draft.

After Monday's practice, Enderle talked about his increased reps.

"It was nice," he said. "It's good to get the mental reps in, you know, sitting back and watching the older guys do it right. But it's also nice to actually physically get the reps in and see the things with my eyes. I get a little more used to it.

"I just go in when they tell me to go in. I don't look too much into it."

It will be hard not to read into the matter if Enderle's second-team reps continue to increase.

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