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How much does Sanzenbacher play on special teams?

Posted Aug 8, 2012

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

I’m pulling for Dane Sanzenbacher to make the Bears roster again this season but am not sure how much he contributes on special teams, which obviously is a requirement for the fifth or sixth receiver. How involved is he in that aspect of the game?

Pete W.
Berea, Ohio

Eric Weems and Rashied Davis are certainly more experienced and at this point probably still better than Dane Sanzenbacher on special teams. But Sanzenbacher was a two-phase starter for the Bears on special teams over the final quarter or so of last season, contributing on the kickoff return as well as a punt protector. Here’s what special teams coordinator Dave Toub said about Sanzenbacher this week at training camp: “If he’s in that role, if he’s the fourth or fifth receiver, or sixth receiver for that matter, we know he can come in and play special teams for us. We feel comfortable with that.”

I’ve heard rumblings that D.J. Moore will be given a chance to play cornerback this season. Is that true?

Ryan F.
Charlotte, North Carolina

I’m guessing those rumblings probably came from D.J. Moore himself! I don’t think the Bears have any plans to play him at cornerback. They’re perfectly happy with how he has performed at nickel back, which is a crucial position given the proliferation of the passing game in the NFL. Here’s what defensive backs coach Jon Hoke said about Moore at training camp: “He’s more of a nickel than he is a corner. Not that he’s slow, but he’s definitely quicker than fast. He has a good feel for the game underneath. Size-wise it suits him better. You don’t want him to go out and play on the edge and all of a sudden you’ve got to play Brandon Marshall and those types of guys. That would be a struggle. Even though Tim Jennings does it for us, he’s done it more often in the long run and he understands how to do it.”

I saw the first depth chart released and noticed that Brandon Hardin was listed as second-string free safety. I thought that his size and speed would lend itself to the strong position and was wondering if it was due to a lack of depth at free and if you think he will eventually move to strong?

Kevin C.
Colorado Springs, Colorado

I believe the Bears do envision Brandon Hardin playing strong safety at some point, but defensive backs coach Jon Hoke explained recently at training camp that Hardin is playing free safety at this point because it makes for an easier transition into the NFL. Hoke said: “Since I’ve been here, all the new guys have started at free. There are components of free and strong in the free safety position. But from a down-to-down base it’s easier to transition them into free and then move them over to strong.”

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