Sanzenbacher proved he belongs, now he must do it again


He was an undrafted free agent who finished ninth among rookie wide receivers in 2011 with 27 catchesas many as Austin Pettis in St. Louis (a No. 2) and more than Jonathan Baldwin in Kansas City (a No.1), Randall Cobb in Green Bay (a No. 2), and Vincent Brown in San Diego and Leonard Hankerson in Washington, both third-rounders.

Indeed, Dane Sanzenbacher believes he dispelled doubts and skeptics and proved that he belongs in the NFL.

Yeah. I think I proved I belong here, Sanzenbacher told, although not sounding particularly satisfied with the accomplishment.

But I havent reached my full potential in this league yet. Theres a lot more things to do. Its one thing to belong, but whats that mean? To just be a part of it, to participate? Theres a lot more.

Yet Sanzenbacher, whose three touchdown catches were second on the Bears behind only tight end Kellen Davis, is facing perhaps an even stiffer challenge for a roster spot than he did as an unproven rookie out of Ohio State this time last year.

The Bears have four roster locks at wide receiver: Earl Bennett, Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester and rookie Alshon Jeffery. Devin Thomas and Eric Weems were signed for their special-teams prowess and Weems rates an edge as a kick returner.

This has Sanzenbacher in the position of potentially needing to beat out one or two receivers who have never matched his offensive production in their careers. And chances of the Bears keeping seven receivers are slim to none, given their situation at tight end with two veterans under contract (Davis, Matt Spaeth) and one drafted in the fourth round (Evan Rodriguez).

But thats how its been, Sanzenbacher said. Thats how last year was too. I think until you start to prove yourself, its warranted. You need to make plays and make people realize it.

Theyre not going to automatically come out and give you credit. Second year in the league, I still have a lot of proving to do.

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