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Lights, camera, action: Bears hook up ex-Warhawk

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staff, Gazette
May 14, 2013

— Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Blanchard had little chance to impress coaches last season or during an April minicamp, so he did what he could to make the most of his chance to throw at the team’s rookie camp that ended Sunday.

That included wearing a camera on his helmet.

To get a better idea how Blanchard understands the offense, the Bears had him wear a unique helmet camera so they could see where he looks at the defense and when during the sequence of running plays.

“We really haven’t spent any time evaluating what we would get out of it or what we have gotten out of it,” coach Marc Trestman said. “It was fun to do it. I peeked at it, but I really didn’t study it. We’ll see what unfolds this week and what we think we can do with it or move it around—could we put it on the top of the helmet as opposed to the side of a helmet?

“It’s kind of fun. It’s not a major part of our focus.”

Blanchard was just hoping the play repetitions he had can be helpful when the team starts organized team activities this week, followed by a mandatory minicamp.

“With being the third or fourth quarterback, you don’t get many reps,” said Blanchard, an undrafted former UW-Whitewater Division III quarterback who also took part in last year’s rookie camp.

“An opportunity to come out here, I was ecstatic that they told me I was going to do this rookie minicamp so I can get the reps.

“It just gets me ready for OTAs moving forward.”

Doing his best at the rookie camp was critical because he wanted to show Trestman and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh there is no need for general manager Phil Emery to pursue a free agent veteran as a third-stringer.

“I am a lot more confident,” Blanchard said. “I have had a chance to work with Jay (Cutler) and Josh (McCown) and Coach Cavanaugh and Coach Trestman so I have had a month and a half now to learn the playbook and digest it.

“I didn’t get many reps in the first minicamp so now I was glad I was able to put it on the field with all of the stuff I was able to learn.”

The Bears had talked about drafting a developmental QB behind Cutler and McCown. However, they had only five picks before trading down in Round 4 to get an extra pick for Round 7.

“Going into the draft, if was more of a question: Would we accumulate enough (draft) picks to go in that direction?” GM Phil Emery said of a backup QB. “With five picks and the number of players that we wanted to add at the positions we wanted to add them, I don’t know how practical that was.”

Yet they did not pursue another undrafted free agent QB, and for rookie camp brought in only former St. Xavier QB Jimmy Coy to help with throws.

The team signed Blanchard out of Whitewater after last year’s rookie camp when Lovie Smith was head coach. Blanchard completed 9 of 16 for 94 yards with an interception and 47.4 passer rating.

They cut Blanchard and put him on the practice squad after training camp. Then they cut him again in December, but he re-signed with the team in January.

“He’s articulate in the verbiage of our offense,” Trestman said. “He has picked it up very quickly. Again, the reps have really helped him. He’s got very good fundamentals.

“He needs to improve like every quarterback does and he has a good base, like I said. The ball easily comes out of his hand as you can see, when he’s over the top on his throws it’s a very natural throwing motion and he doesn’t have to squeeze the ball hard or he doesn’t have to what I would say work the ball, it comes off his hand very easily and very naturally and he’s got some mobility.”



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