You'd think that Chicago Bears wide receiver Joseph Anderson, a young player from a small school, would feel pressure to perform under the lights at Soldier Field. But for this product of Texas Southern, the pressure comes during practice. Game night is pure enjoyment.
"I love it out there," Anderson said after the preseason finale. "I work so hard every day in the weight room, out on the practice field, that once I am in a game situation, I completely relax. For me, it's all fun 100 percent of the time."
Against the Browns, Anderson showed just how relaxed he could be by turning a pass from quarterback Jordan Palmer into a 37-yard gain, then scoring on a Palmer 5-yard pass. Anderson ended the night with 4 receptions for 64 yards, an average of 16.0 yards per catch.
"That's so much fun," Anderson said. "Moments like those are what I live for."
Anderson spent much of last year on the practice squad, but this year, he could get the opportunity to shine. Coach Marc Trestman seemed impressed.
"Joe Anderson was the same Joe Anderson we saw during training camp," Trestman said. "He played fast and efficient and was catching the football. Everything we saw during practice he's shown he can do under the lights. He's right there in the mix. I think he's shown that he can play in this league."
For Anderson, it's all about taking advantage of opportunities.
"You don't get that many opportunities at this level," Anderson said. "It's all about stepping up and getting it done when your number is called. I've got a job to do just like everybody else here. I've got to be where I'm supposed to be to make the plays. I needed to show them that I belong, that I can get it done on the field. I think I was successful in that."
Anderson was listed as a second-team receiver behind Alshon Jeffery on the depth chart against the Browns. Did he feel that he showed enough to remain there?
"Sure I do," Anderson said. "It's all about accomplishments. I think I'm where I should be statistically tonight."
What about the 37-yard reception?
"I broke one tackle but then got tripped up some. I was able to get away and move down the field. It slowed me down some but then I was able to regain speed and get away. I was able to get wide, a nice angle to make some yards."
Anderson enjoyed working with Jordan Palmer and felt they could be a productive team.
"Every quarterback here is an excellent quarterback," Anderson said, "but Jordan and I had some extra good communication going on here tonight. It was a lot of fun. He showed a lot tonight and I'm very comfortable with him. He can help this team a lot but we'll just have to see where things go."
Anderson is also taking a wait-and-see attitude as to the final cuts due on Sunday.
"I think I showed enough to stick here, to make it to the roster but I'm not the one making those decisions. I give it my all every day in practice. I work hard and am productive in games. Hopefully when the coaches review the game film, they'll see that I can be a contributing member of this team."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.