In yesterday's practice, rookie quarterback Nathan Enderle took all of the snaps with the Chicago Bears second team. The second-team starter before then, Caleb Hanie, never saw the field. Hanie scored the team's lone touchdown in Saturday's first preseason game against the Bill but coach Lovie Smith says he still has a ways to go.
"After you play a game, your reps change a little bit based on what you've done," Smith said. "Caleb didn't play as well as I thought he did initially."
When reporters attempted to talk with Hanie after practice, he stormed past with a scowl saying, "I'm not talking." Obviously, he was not expecting to be demoted so quickly.
Enderle said he wasn't informed before practice he'd be getting all the second-unit reps.
"I only heard about it right before practice and [coordinator Mike Martz] just told me to go in, so I paid attention," Enderle said. "I'm not even trying to look into it too much. There could be a bunch of reasons."
Smith said the move was not a promotion or punishment for either signal caller.
QB Caleb Hanie
"There's no punishment; there's no rewards," he said. "You look at how a guy played and that determines what type of reps he gets the following week. Nathan hasn't gotten hardly any reps in practice. We want to see what he can do when he gets a few more reps in practice."
Yet during the first week of training camp, when Hanie could not participate due to the rules of the new collective bargaining agreement, Enderle took all of the reps with the second team. Hanie has been working with the second unit since Aug. 4 but it's not as if Enderle hasn't had plenty of opportunities so far.
This was a decision made by Smith and Martz after they had a chance to view the game film. Hanie was the 3 for 7 passing on Saturday for 32 yards. He wasn't accurate and was holding onto the ball far too long. He was sacked three times, most of which were the result of him waiting too long in the pocket.
"I think sacks are one of the toughest things because it really takes everybody," Enderle said.
Enderle completed 7 of his 10 attempts in the second half of the Bills game for 110 yards and an interception. His long throw was a 31-yard strike to rookie WR Kris Adams. Playing against Buffalo's third and fourth units, Enderle looked very comfortable.
"I did okay," said Enderle. "There's still a lot I've got to learn, which is pretty typical."
Enderle said he's working hard at letting the game come to him instead of thinking too much.
"[I'm working on] getting the offense instilled so it becomes just a reaction, instead of having to think about a bunch of stuff as I drop back," he said. "Making the drops that [Martz} has us take, muscle memory, so I don't have to worry about those, so I can just go out and play football."
This move doesn't come a complete surprise. At this year's Scouting Combine, Martz was asked about Hanie and whether he was committed to him as the team's backup.
"I don't know. We will see," Martz told The Chicago Tribune back in February. "We don't have to worry about any of that right now."
It became clear then that Martz was not sold on Hanie. When the team used its fourth draft pick in three years on a quarterback – two in the Cutler trade, another for Dan LeFevour in 2010 – to draft Endrle in the fifth round this year, it was a clear sign of the coach's lack of confidence in Hanie.
Hanie went out and did not perform well after just two weeks of practice. Yet where the offensive line, which was awful on Saturday, saw no first-team changes, Martz immediately gave Hanie the hook. At this point, you wonder if it's something personal.
It's going to be very interesting to see who takes the second-team reps this evening. Stay tuned to Bear Report as we'll be keeping a close eye on this story as it develops.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.