The Bears on Sunday agreed to three-year contracts with seven players who participated in their three-day rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.
The group consists of Wisconsin-Whitewater quarterback Matt Blanchard, Texas Southern receiver Joseph Anderson, Illinois State tight end Brandon Venson, Concordia tackle Tyler Hendrickson, Central Florida guard Nick Pieschel, Boston College punter Ryan Quigley and Connecticut kicker David Teggart.
Wide receiver Joseph Anderson impressed Bears coaches during the rookie minicamp.
“When you start a camp like this, you’re anxious to see what you have as far as the new guys are concerned,” said coach Lovie Smith. “Our draft picks were pretty much what we thought they would be. All of them stood out some time during the camp. Some of the undrafted players made their mark.
“But the group of tryout guys that came here without a contract, I’m always anxious to see what we have from those and a few of the guys really made us take notice. This was an excellent group of guys that hopefully can contribute in some way to us.”
Blanchard grew up in the Chicago area, starring at Lake Zurich High School. He initially attended Northern Michigan before transferring to Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he won all 25 of his starts in two seasons while throwing 44 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. On his college bio page, Blanchard lists his dream job as “head coach of the Chicago Bears.”
Blanchard and fellow quarterback Ronnie Fouch of Indiana State both threw the ball well in rookie minicamp.
“Both of the guys did some good things,” Smith said. “Quarterbacks have an opportunity. They know they’re going to get a chance to throw the ball and prove what they can do, and again we did take notice.”
In three seasons at Texas Southern, Anderson caught 154 passes for 2,010 yards and 13 touchdowns. Last year as a senior the 6-1, 196-pounder had 47 receptions for 638 yards and four TDs.
Venson also grew up in the Chicago area, attending Glenbard West. He spent time at Northern Illinois and College of DuPage before heading to Illinois State, where he was used primarily as a blocker.
Hendrickson was a Division II All-American left tackle at Concordia in St. Paul, Minn. One draft publication called the 6-8, 313-pounder “one of the top under-the-radar prospects in the country.”
Pieschel was voted second-team all-Conference USA last season after starting the final 11 games at right tackle for Central Florida. The 6-6, 309-pounder was a four-year starter who played every line position except center in college.
A four-year contributor at Boston College, Quigley was fourth in the nation last season with 28 punts inside-the-20.
Teggart made 74 of 97 field-goal attempts (76.3 percent) in four seasons at Connecticut, including 22 of 28 tries (78.6 percent) last year as a senior.
All 33 tryout players who participated in the rookie minicamp were given ample opportunities to impress Bears coaches both on and off the field.
“We’re just evaluating them based on what we see out here and that’s all we’ve done for any of the positions,” Smith said. “You evaluate guys in shorts without the pads and you want to see athletic ability. We have a chance to also see them in the meeting rooms to see how they pick things up and just see how we work with them on the field. So this was a great evaluation and I think the guys had an opportunity to prove what they can do.”
On Monday, the Bears waived tackle Levi Horn, tight end Andre Smith and guard Reggie Stephens, bringing their roster to 89, one fewer than the NFL limit.