Bears place Jack Sanborn on IR, ending his season


Jack Sanborn’s impressive rookie season is done. The Bears placed Sanborn on IR on Tuesday due to an ankle injury, and with only three games left in the season there’s not enough time for him to return to the field.

Sanborn’s emergence in the middle of the Bears defense was one of the biggest surprises of the year. He initially joined the team as an undrafted free agent, but quickly impressed throughout training camp and in the preseason. He won a spot on the 53-man roster out of camp, and as the year went on earned some playing time at SAM.

Everything changed when the Bears traded Roquan Smith to the Ravens, though. Sanborn was thrust into the starting MIKE linebacker role, and thrived nearly immediately. In just his second start, Sanborn led the team with both 12 tackles and two sacks. He quickly showed the team that he understood his assignments and could execute on his keys quickly and reliably.

“Undrafted just means undrafted, it doesn’t mean you can’t play at a high level,” said Alan Williams earlier this month. “The NFL has over and over and over again guys that were not drafted in the first round or the second round or the third round or the fourth round that have had great careers. So you can’t measure heart. You can’t always measure instincts. The only things that we measure, the arm length and the speed and that kind of thing, but still that doesn’t say ‘good football player.’ So sometimes good football players are overlooked because their arms aren’t 32 or their hands aren’t 10 and you’re not running 4.4 and all those things. That doesn’t mean you’re not gonna be a really good football player. And so he transcends that. He may not have the measurable, but he’s a good football player, and ultimately that’s what you want. Good football players. Not just track athletes.”

Sanborn has gone from a player brought in with a chance to compete, to a player who has a real future with the team, regardless of whether he’s the starting middle linebacker or a reliable depth piece. He finished the year with 64 tackles, two sacks and one fumble recovery in six starts.

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