Just like he did last season when he was an undrafted rookie, the Wisconsin product has excelled after replacing a Pro Bowl middle linebacker.
In 2022, Sanborn emerged as a key contributor after the midseason trade of Roquan Smith to the Ravens. In six starts, the Chicago area native recorded 59 tackles, 5.0 tackles-for-loss, 2.0 sacks and one fumble recovery.
Sanborn opened this season as the Bears' starting weakside linebacker but moved into the middle after Tremaine Edmunds exited an Oct. 29 loss to the Chargers with a knee injury. In two subsequent starts against the Saints and Panthers, Sanborn registered 17 tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one pass breakup.
"We had a lot of confidence in Jack coming in this year because of what he did last year in those six games that he played," said linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi. "So when Tremaine went down, we had a ton of confidence in Jack. He really earned that confidence by the way he played, and it really started his rookie year in practice. He practiced well and that carried over to the games. When he came in there this year, he played really well. That's the expectation for Jack. He's a really good player."
Tackling machine: Sanborn has been lining up alongside another really good player in veteran linebacker T.J. Edwards, his former Wisconsin teammate.
Edwards enters Week 11 with 110 tackles, second most in the NFL behind Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin's 117 stops. Edwards' 110 tackles are the most by a Bears player over the first 10 games of a season since at least 1994, when tackle statistics began being kept.
"He's been awesome," Borgonzi said. "Everybody sees the production on the field, and it's been high. Even more importantly is just the leader that he is [and] how he carries himself and how that ripple effects throughout the whole defense and the whole team. He's been super productive on the field, and he's been a great character guy for us in the building."
Major impact: Montez Sweat did not record a sack in last Thursday night's 16-13 win over the Panthers. But the recently acquired defensive end made a major impact with eight pressures and three quarterback hits. In the process, Sweat helped create opportunities for linemen Yannick Ngakoue, Justin Jones and Rasheem Green all to sack Carolina quarterback Bryce Young.
"Although he didn't have any sacks, he affected the quarterback," Borgonzi said. "And that was a big deal for our defensive backs and our linebackers—the guys in coverage—because that helps them out a lot because the quarterbacks feel that. So 'Tez has been a huge impact for us, but also just him as a person. He's just a positive guy. You see when the other guys got sacks, 'Tez was the most excited guy on the field. It's been pretty unique to see the player. We knew the player was good, but just the person too."
The Bears were back on the practice fields at Halas Hall to continue their preparation for Sunday's divisional battle with the Lions in Detroit.