Dinwiddie Faces Uphill Battle

Despite his prolific numbers at Boise State, quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent last spring.

He was waived Aug. 30 without even playing in a preseason games. He spent most of the season out of football, stocking shelves at a nutritional supplement store before returning home to Sacramento, Calif., where he worked out with a personal trainer.

Dinwiddie eventually rejoined the Bears Dec. 28, filling a spot on the practice squad prior to the season finale against the Packers. His quest to make it in the NFL continues, as he's in the midst of preseason training in Tampa and then to Germany to play for the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europe.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound, 24-year old was a three-year starter at Boise State, where he set school career records for passing yards, passing efficiency and TDs as well as single-season marks for total offense, passing yards, completions and attempts. He passed for 4,356 yards with 31 TDs and 7 interceptions as a senior.

Despite the production, Dinwiddie went undrafted primarily due to concerns about his lack of size and arm strength.

"The critics have been pretty skeptical about me," Dinwiddie said. "They don't think I can make some throws. Well, I really haven't had an opportunity to do that yet. I'm looking forward to (NFL Europe) being the opportunity for me to do that and prove to either the Bears or someone else that I can make all the throws at this level and play at this level. I've got to find someone that likes my game."

He faces a crowded situation on the Bears roster behind starting quarterback Rex Grossman. Last year's fifth-round pick, Craig Krenzel, started five games after Grossman was hurt.

Chad Hutchinson, who was signed off the street in late September, started five games, and veteran Jonathan Quinn started three times but has since been waived. Unrestricted free agent Jeff George was signed late in the season but never played and was not asked back by the team. Kurt Kittner, who will also play in NFL Europe, was signed at the suggestion of new offensive coordinator Ron Turner. The two worked together at Illinois to make Kittner the most prolific passer in school history.

Indications are that Bears GM Jerry Angelo will again try to add a veteran backup quarterback on the cheap, even though it backfired last year when Quinn was a flop.

"The marketplace has to dictate as well as the player; probably more so with the finances at this point," Angelo said. "But we feel that there's a good handful of players that fit our description of what we're looking for. It's just a matter now of letting it run its course."

While the Bears seek a veteran backup, the team lost out on both Kurt Warner and Jay Fiedler. Although Brad Johnson remains an option, there is a chance the Bears could go to their May mini-camp with Grossman, Hutchinson and Krenzel. Dinwiddie and Kittner will get a chance to show their worth in Europe, which kicks off April 2, but both are long shots to make team.

Angelo would then revisit signing a veteran quarterback after June 1st when the team can create additional salary cap room. He also recently mentioned carrying up to four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, which could open the door for a young QB to stick.

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