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Wolfe confident he will be in the mix at running back
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/3/2009 10:35 PM | Updated: 9/4/2009 6:33 AM

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If the Bears decide to go with three running backs, either Garrett Wolfe or Adrian Peterson could be former Bears by the end of the weekend.

But Wolfe is looking forward to playing an expanded role this season.

"That's what I've been told," said the 5-foot-7, 185-pound former Northern Illinois Huskie. "Until I'm shown otherwise I'll definitely believe that.

"Throughout my time of being here (offensive coordinator Ron Turner) has shown different ways of getting me the ball. It just hasn't materialized in the season."

Wolfe averaged 13.0 yards per catch as a rookie in 2007, but he had just 9 receptions. Last year he averaged 4.6 yards per carry but got just 13 attempts.

"I think this year is definitely going to be different because we need to do things to keep Matt (Forte) fresh," Wolfe said. "I expect an increased role, not only for myself but for (No. 2 running back) Kevin Jones as well."

Wolfe got 4 carries for 19 yards Thursday night, including 11 yards on a draw as he broke two tackles. He also caught 2 passes for 28 yards.

Wolfe and Peterson both expected to survive the final cut, and Jones' ankle injury early Thursday night probably guarantees that.

Moving on up: Caleb Hanie impressed the Bears enough last year as an undrafted rookie to make the 53-man roster as the No. 3 quarterback, and he has moved up a spot after another impressive off-season and training camp.

"I'm a lot more comfortable (this year)," Hanie said. "It's like night and day. Last year (I was) still learning the offense and still adjusting to the speed of the game, and now I'm continually adjusting to the speed, but I think I've caught up a lot more and feel a lot more comfortable and confident in there."

Hanie entered Thursday's preseason finale with an impressive 89.4 passer rating, and he got his most extended playing time against the Browns, taking over for Jay Cutler on the Bears' second possession.

Hanie said he already has benefited from Cutler's presence.

"He's taught me a lot," said the Colorado State product. "You just get a different perspective on things. He brings a different outlook on everything."

Hanie had a different outlook early Thursday night, and it consisted mostly of Browns defensive linemen in his face.

He was sacked three times in the first half and intercepted once, but he had a 43-yard completion to Johnny Knox for the second straight week.

Hanie thrived despite the pressure, completing 9 of 13 for 119 yards with 1 TD and a passer rating of 91.5.

Sitting it out: Three offensive starters - running back Matt Forte, wide receiver Devin Hester and center Olin Kreutz - were healthy but did not play Thursday. Wide receiver Rashied Davis (stinger) also sat out.

Cornerback Charles Tillman (back, physically unable to perform list), rookie defensive end Henry Melton (ankle), defensive lineman Israel Idonije (hamstring) and tight end Kellen Davis also did not play.

Lineup changes: For the fourth straight game, strong safety Kevin Payne switched to free safety in place of Danieal Manning, who dressed for the first time this preseason but did not start, although he played nickel back in passing situations.

Rookie Al Afalava started strong safety for the fourth straight game. Cornerback Zack Bowman, playing for the first time, started at cornerback.