As he leaned in a chair next to his locker, Bears third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie paused when asked to contemplate his future.
"I think anybody wants a chance somewhere," the undrafted rookie free agent said. "But obviously you want to be on the [53-man] roster so you can get paid better, progress your career faster."
In others words, Hanie didn't make money plays all off-season for nothing.
The former Colorado State quarterback was one of a handful of Bears reserves trying to make an impression in Thursday night's exhibition finale. The Bears avoided a winless exhibition slate with a 16-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns, thanks in part to three Robbie Gould field goals.
But the bigger issue is which players will make the cut come Saturday's deadline. Twenty-one of them won't.
Hanie, who completed his first six passes and finished 12 of 17 for 115 yards and an interception, hopes he accomplished enough to get a second look, even with the practice squad.
"I think it helped," said Hanie, who played more than half the game. "How much it helped, it's kind of up in the air. I don't have much of a decision. It's up to them."
The Bears will have some interesting decisions to make. At receiver, there is an established core of four that could grow to six. That made the battle between Mark Bradley and Brandon Rideau even more intriguing, and both performed well.
Bradley caught five passes for 42 yards as he established a rhythm with Hanie. He was considered a possible replacement for Bernard Berrian as the No. 1 receiver, but Bradley has been somewhat of a mystery this preseason coming off minor knee surgery. He was a second-round pick in 2005, so the Bears might be eager to get more out of their investment.
"They know what I'm capable of doing," Bradley said when asked if he had something to prove. "It's just about being healthy."
Rideau, an undrafted free agent who entered the league with the Browns, continued to impressed. He grabbed a short pass from Rex Grossman and turned it into a 19-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Rideau also had the team's longest reception with a 38-yard catch.
"I proved enough to know I can play," Rideau said. "Whether I stick on this team or not, that's totally up to the coaching staff, deciding where they need me or where they would want to put me. It used to be tough, not knowing. Now I just feel it's not in my hands, that I just go out there and make plays and have faith."
Running back Garrett Wolfe helped himself with two solid kick returns, although he should be in the running back mix regardless. Cornerback Trumaine McBride had an interception that was overturned, but he still looked good making the attempt. Rookie defensive end Erwin Baldwin forced a fumble, although that play was overturned as well.
As for players such as end Dan Bazuin and linebacker Michael Okwo, first-day picks from a year ago, it could be a long weekend. Okwo tipped a pass and Bazuin showed some good pressure from the edge late in the game. But Bazuin didn't make big plays, which was his aim.
"I did some of the things I wanted to," Bazuin said. "There are some plays I look back at and I could have improved on those.
"I've done everything I can do. It's up to management and the coaches to make their decisions. I'm not going to worry about it."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun