Fans in Chicago love the “folk hero” types. Guys who aren’t quite stars, or even starters, but quickly become massive fan favorites (See: DeRosa, Mark). For the Chicago Bears last year, that guy was Dane Sanzenbacher.
Sanzenbacher caught on with the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State University last summer. A strong training camp and a thin receiving corps helped him to make the team. Heading into this year, though, it isn’t so easy.
Sanzenbacher has been buried on the depth chart, mainly thanks to the trade for Brandon Marshall and the selection of Alshon Jeffery back in April. That has left a tough assignment for Sanzenbacher and the other receivers trying to make the team.
The top four receivers on the roster are basically set, in some order: Marshall, Jeffery, Earl Bennett, and Devin Hester. That probably leaves two spots, one for Eric Weems, and Devin Thomas looking like the sixth guy, and likely fifth receiver. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s the kind of player that works hard and can be effective in the slot. He’s a player that many teams would like to have.
That doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t room for Sanzenbacher. It’s just going to be tough. He’ll also be battling a few other guys who are just trying to win a spot on this team. He’s looked good again this summer, but with Weems and Thomas both contributing to special teams, it’s going to be very difficult.
If the Dane Sanzenbacher Era does come to an end in Chicago this summer, it won’t be the last we hear of him. As was the case last summer, there would likely be more than a few teams interested in grabbing him if he can’t hang onto a spot with this Chicago Bears team.
UPDATE: With the surprise retirement of Devin Thomas, it looks like Sanzenbacher may be able to grab a spot as a sixth receiver. It will likely come down to him and Brittan Golden, assuming the Bears choose to roll with six receivers.