Bears could use a veteran QB backup

Updated: May 2, 2010, 8:35 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- From the sounds of things, the Chicago Bears may still be in the market to add a veteran quarterback to provide depth behind starter Jay Cutler.

The biggest factor working against the current group of backups is inexperience. Although Cutler has never missed a game due to injury, Caleb Hanie, Brett Basanez and rookie Dan LeFevour have attempted a combined 18 passes in the NFL -- Basanez threw 11 in 2006, Hanie 7 in 2009.

"It makes you a little nervous, doesn't it," Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said Sunday when asked if the Bears need to sign a veteran. "I think Caleb is going to be a good player, but I really don't know. I'm excited about him, but I really don't know. You look at a guy like Kurt Warner, he played in [NFL] Europe, and we looked at all of his Europe stuff, so we kind of had a feel for him under pressure, blitzes and things like that."

"I think Caleb will be all right, but [potentially adding a veteran] gives you that insurance, pads it a little bit. From that aspect, I think it would make us all feel a little easier with a veteran. But you just never know."

Hanie has been with the team for two seasons, but has had a limited role.

"The only thing we don't know is how well he responds under pressure," Martz said. "Does he take all this information and everything and can he see things around him quickly? Sometimes that takes a little time. He needs experience."

Coaches tend to prefer players who are familiar with the team's schemes and philosophies. Martz says bringing in one of his former players, like free agent Josh McCown, isn't necessarily a prerequisite, but that it's nice to have a built-in comfort level with his quarterbacks. Marc Bulger, who ran Martz's offense in St. Louis, is also still a free agent.

"Well that would always help, it makes it easier that's for sure," Martz said. "But a good player is a good player, we'll make it work."

LeFevour was joined at rookie camp by former University of Illinois quarterback Juice Williams, who was one of 30 players invited to work out with hopes of signing a deal to get onto the roster for the May 21-23 full-squad minicamp and perhaps the start of training camp.

Martz worked with both quarterbacks extensively on throwing fundamentals and touched on the offense over the weekend.

"I think Juice and I both have a lot to learn from a guy like that," LeFevour said. "It's been great so far. He's just giving me little tips here and there about quarterback play. I can already see the improvement already. I've just got to tie it all together with the concept things I've learned and it should get a lot better."

While Martz sounded open to pursuing another quarterback, he did not openly endorse the idea of signing a veteran wide receiver to compete with Devin Hester, Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox.

"I love our receivers, I think that our receiving core will be the strength of this team," Martz said. "You can put that in granite, I can promise you that one. There's not very many things I would say I'm emphatic about, but that one is pretty strong. This will be a strength of this football team. That's a terrific group, it really is."

Bears head coach Lovie Smith wouldn't rule out adding a player at any position.

"I know Mike and some of our new coaches coming in have been impressed with our receiver group," Smith said. "He [Martz] thinks we're in pretty good shape right now, but we're always looking to improve our ball club. That evaluation will continue at all positions right up until [the season]."

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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