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Next step for steady Hass: regular-season opportunities
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/5/2007 12:20 AM

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At the start of Bears training camp, the only person in Bourbonnais who didn't consider Mike Hass a longshot to make the final roster was Hass.

Even though he left Oregon State as the school's all-time leading receiver, the 6-foot-1, 206-pound Hass dropped into the sixth round of the 2006 draft because his pedestrian 4.62 time in the 40 overshadowed his production.

And then the Saints cut him, hoping to sneak him on their practice squad. Hass chose the Bears instead, although he still spent all season on their practice squad.

"Last year was tough because I didn't get the opportunity to go out in the regular-season games and play," he said. "But that just kind of added to the fire, and I knew this was a big year where I had to make something happen. So every day I just tried to come out and prove myself."

This year he refused to act like a practice squad player or like someone just happy to be in camp. He was confident that he belonged with the big boys.

"I never doubted myself," Hass said. "I know I can play, and I guess I proved that to some people. A lot of people didn't expect it, but I did, so I'm here."

Hass was so impressive catching the ball during training-camp practices that it became news when he finally dropped one -- after about two weeks.

He finished the preseason with 4 catches for 67 yards, fourth-best among the Bears' wideouts. It all added up to a spot on the 53-man roster as the sixth and final wide receiver.

"It was just a case of a guy coming in behind the eight-ball a little bit and working his way on to the roster," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

Hass couldn't relax until late Saturday afternoon after hours of hoping his cell phone wouldn't ring.

"You just wait," he said of the final cut-down day. "I just tried to keep myself busy. The deadline was 3 o'clock; that's when I truly knew."

Though not nearly as fast or flashy as Mark Bradley and Devin Hester, Hass had 1 more preseason catch then Bradley and 39 yards more than Hester on the same number of receptions.

Now, Hass hopes he'll get a chance to work his way onto the field.

For all the flash and dash that the Bears have added to the offense, there is a shortage of consistency and reliability behind starting wide receivers Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad and slot receiver Rashied Davis.

That's what Hass brings to the party, and that steady effort and production are what have earned him comparisons to other "slow" receivers who have enjoyed long, successful NFL careers.

"He shows the same type of savvy as Wayne Chrebet or Ricky Proehl," wrote Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki in the 2006 draft preview.

Chrebet played 11 years in the league and caught 580 passes for 7,365 yards. Proehl played 17 seasons and caught 669 passes for 8,878 yards.

But Hass knows it's still a long way from making the team to playing for the team.

"It's kind of one of those things where the work just begins," he said. "You work hard to make the team, and now you've got to work just as hard if not harder to make an impact and help the team out."

Here's hoping he gets a chance.