Jack Sanborn, Dante Pettis emptied tank in final bid for Bears' roster spot

·3 min read

Sanborn, Pettis 'left it all out there' in final bid for roster spot originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

CLEVELAND – There's nothing more for Jack Sanborn to do but wait.

The Bears' undrafted rookie linebacker has had a tremendous preseason for his hometown team. He opened the exhibition slate by recording two turnovers against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field. He has shown he has value both as a depth linebacker and as a special teams contributor.

Sanborn has done all he can to earn a spot on the team he grew up rooting for as a young boy in Lake Zurich. Now, it's out of his hands.

"I left it all out there," Sanborn said after the Bears' 21-20 win over the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. "Whatever happens, happens. But I'm going to be happy with how I played. I'm happy with how I performed. We'll see."

The Bears have to cut their roster from 80 to 53 on Tuesday. Entering camp, Sanborn was fighting uphill for a job. But he has acquitted himself well and is squarely in the mix for a spot on the 53-man unit.

Even if Sanborn ends up being a surprise cut, the Wisconsin product has shown he can be a valuable player at the NFL level, and it's now on tape for the other 31 teams to see.

But that hasn't even crossed his mind.

"Yeah, I don't know. I guess. It's my first year doing this," Sanborn said. "But I definitely would rather stay. We'll see what happens."

Sanborn, along with seventh-round pick Elijah Hicks and fifth-round pick Braxton Jones, could be early proof of the talent-evaluation ability of the Bears' new front office. Special teams coordinator Richard Hightower has certainly been impressed with Sanborn and that the Bears were able to snap him up before other teams caught on to him.

"Jack Sanborn, you guys can't deny it right now, his production," Hightower said Wednesday. "He made two tackles inside the 20 last game, he made tackles the game before that, he had an interception on defense. I mean, I just think that's just, he had a fumble recovery, too, right? So, everyone can see that.

"And the cool thing about that is Ryan, and Ian [Cunningham], and Trey [Koziol], those personnel guys saw it before anybody else saw it and their ability to be able to find talent like that as an undrafted free agent, it's pretty darn good. So, I'm excited about Jack Sanborn and I hope that he continues to progress."

Sanborn was one of many Bears who spent Saturday night making their final pitch to Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus that they deserve a spot on the Bears' Week 1 roster.

Among them was Dante Pettis, who likely locked down a spot with a great night in Cleveland. Working with the first-team offense, Pettis caught three passes for 37 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown from Justin Fields. Pettis ran a sharp post-corner route, and Fields tossed a dart that put the Bears up 13-0.

"I know I can play," Pettis said after the game. "But it's always nice to have those little wins. Football is still scoring."

The former second-round pick out of Washington has bounced around the NFL to start his career. The 26-year-old is aware that chances to stick in the NFL can eventually dry up. Since joining the Bears in May, Pettis has worked tirelessly to develop chemistry with Fields and demonstrate his value as a punt returner.

"Opportunity is opportunity," Pettis said. "It doesn't really matter where, when, how it shows up but I'm glad they gave me an opportunity. I feel like I took advantage of the chances that I got."

We'll find out in 48 hours if Sanborn and Pettis did enough to seize the opportunities given to them.

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