Changing Leagues

The lockout has made the transition from CFL to NFL harder for the newest Bears receiver Andy Fantuz, but he's adjusting to the changes the best he knows how: through hard work.

Recently-signed Chicago Bears wide receiver Andy Fantuz has to confront changing countries, style of play and rules in making the switch from the CFL to the NFL. The biggest difference, besides some of the more obvious ones, like the size of the field, and the speed of the players?

For Fantuz, it's been becoming accustomed to not having the in-motion head start that CFL rules permit wide receivers.

"It's something you just have to get used to," Fantuz told The Sports Xchange this week. "You kind of have to coach it out of yourself. It takes some getting used to, definitely."

WR Andy Fantuz
Harry How/Getty

Fantuz, 27, has gotten solid reviews so far in the Bears' informal team workouts. Signed to a "futures" contract in February, he provides Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Martz a different kind of receiver, in that he is 6-feet-4, 200 pounds. None of the other five receivers on the roster are taller than 6-feet.

The perception is that the Martz-designed offense dictates smaller, quicker wide receivers, and that Fantuz, rumored to run in the 4.7-4.8 range, is a poor fit. But Fantuz, a Canadian native who played at the University of West Ontario and won the Hec Crighton Trophy there (Canada's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy), doesn't necessarily agree.

"The thing at any level, especially here, is your speed in and out of your cuts, making precise moves, getting down the timing," Fantuz said. "And I think I'm getting all of that down."

Fantuz worked out for several teams after the season and he and agent Hadley Engelhard settled on the Bears in part because Chicago executives convinced the pair the club could use a bigger, more physical wide receiver, one who didn't fit the mold of the other pass-catchers on the roster.

Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.

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