BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears believe Matt Gutierrez could be exactly what they need at quarterback even though he lacks much in the way of NFL credentials.
Gutierrez signed a one-year contract and went through his first practice Wednesday, providing the Bears with a third quarterback for practice and possibly even this Saturday’s preseason game against the Oakland Raiders at Soldier Field.
“He’s a smart guy, he’s been in some good systems,” coach Lovie Smith said.
The Bears were in need of another quarterback after backup Caleb Hanie sustained a sprained right shoulder that could keep him out for the remainder of the preseason.
Gutierrez spent 2007 and 2008 on New England’s roster and 2009 with the Kansas City Chiefs. The former Idaho State quarterback has thrown two NFL passes and completed both for 18 yards.
Prior to signing with Chicago, Gutierrez was pondering an offer to join the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL. Instead, Wednesday afternoon he was trying to learn as much as possible about coordinator Mike Martz’s offense in order to take some of the throwing burden off starter Jay Cutler and third-string quarterback Dan LeFevour.
“It’s just part of the game, part of doing what we do as players,” Gutierrez said. “We’ve got to deal with situations like this so I’m trying to come in and learn as fast as I can.”
Smith wouldn’t rule out game action for Gutierrez on Saturday.
“I think he could learn enough,” Smith said. “It’s not like we’re teaching him a new sport or anything like that.”
The signing serves as a validation of sorts for Hanie, who has thrown only seven passes in two NFL seasons. Martz had expressed some concern over the lack of a veteran backup to Cutler, and the team tried to sign 38-year-old Todd Collins.
However, Collins declined their offer, and instead of looking for another experienced player the Bears signed Gutierrez. Martz is now comfortable enough with Hanie that he didn’t mind.
“Caleb is further than I thought he would be,” Martz said. “You go through growing pains, we put a lot of pressure on him trying to get him ready and stress him out a little bit.
“He went through that phase and he’s fought through it real well and he understands what we’re doing.”
Hanie completed 10 of 17 attempts for 148 yards with a touchdown and an interception against San Diego last Saturday before leaving with the shoulder injury that happened on a sack.
Martz called the art of developing a backup quarterback an inexact science at best.
The offensive coordinator in St. Louis when the Rams won the Super Bowl following the 1999 season, Martz recalled how former Rams quarterback Trent Green was backed up by an unknown named Kurt Warner.
“Trent only threw two incomplete passes in that preseason, ’99, and you have this grocery clerk back there as a backup quarterback (Warner),” Martz said. “So, who knows? I don’t have a crystal ball.”
Notes: The Bears also signed former Houston Texans and University of Cincinnati DB Aaron Webster to a contract and waived G Vince Vance and LB Matt Mayberry.
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