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Hanie confident he can get job done at QB
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/18/2009 12:02 AM

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BOURBONNAIS - Through the spring and into the summer Caleb Hanie heard the awful things people were saying about the Bears' backup quarterbacks, which naturally struck a chord, considering he's Jay Cutler's backup.

Even those Bears watchers giddy over the acquisition of Cutler worried that if, heaven forbid, The Chosen One were injured, the team's fortunes would be in the hands of a novice.

That much is true. Hanie didn't throw a pass last year as an undrafted rookie out of Colorado State, and No. 3 Brett Basanez threw just 11 passes in three years with the Carolina Panthers.

"I hear all the rumors, but you just have to ignore them and go about your business and worry about what you can do," said the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Hanie. "If you go out and play well, then they're going to want to keep you.

"That's what I intend to do, and that's what my goal has always been. The only way you can control what they're thinking is by your play."

Hanie demonstrated some serious mind control over anyone watching the Bears on Saturday night, especially those who contend the Bears need to acquire a more experienced backup.

He completed 8 of 11 passes for 87 yards, 1 touchdown and a passer rating of 125.9.

Hanie was a longshot last year but impressed enough in the preseason (82.1 passer rating) to make the team, although he didn't play in the regular season.

"I was really anxious to see him in (the Bills) game," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "We know what he did last year in the preseason. But he didn't play since then. He continues to show tremendous poise and game awareness."

Since Cutler played just 14 snaps at Buffalo, Hanie got his first taste of playing with some of the Bears' starters and against the Bills' first-team defense.

A year ago he was limited to garbage time, playing with and against second- and third-teamers. The step up in class didn't seem to faze him.

"It felt almost the same to me," he said. "I don't know if it's because I'm more confident this year or that I'm a little bit more adjusted to the speed (of the game). Last year it was all fast to me. Now it's slowing down a little bit, but there's still a lot of stuff to learn."

One thing Hanie doesn't have to learn is how to move around in the pocket or scramble in order to buy time for his receivers to come free. He demonstrated that Saturday on his TD pass to fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou by sprinting out of the pocket and dumping the ball off just as he approached the line of scrimmage.

"On that play (quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton was) in my ear as soon as it happened," Turner said. "He told me, 'That's what he can do.' And that is what he can do.

"Not that he can't make the plays in the pocket - he can - but when something breaks down, he can create something."

If he continues to impress, Hanie might be able to create some peace of mind depth-wise at the quarterback spot.

"It'll quiet people for the week," he said of his first game. "But it's one of those things where you have to perform every time you come out.

"The NFL is a 'what have you done for me lately?' type of league. That's clichéd, but that's how it is. If I went out and played bad this next week, they'd be like, 'They need a veteran backup,' or maybe not.

"But I want to have peace of mind, too, knowing it's not just a one-time thing."