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Bears searching for Cutler's backup; free-agent QB signing possible

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears know who their starting quarterback is. The question remains: Who'll be Jay Cutler's backup?

With untested veterans Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanez on the roster, the Bears took a good look at sixth-round draft pick Dan LeFevour from Central Michigan during rookie minicamp this weekend. Now they'll need to decide whether these players can be adequate or if a veteran needs to be signed.

"It makes you a little nervous, doesn't it?" new Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said about the backup position. "I think Caleb is going to be a real good player, but you really don't know."

Hanie has been with the team for two seasons but thrown just seven NFL passes.

"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."

If the Bears decide the inexperience factor is too great, former Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, who ran Martz's offense in St. Louis, is still a free agent.

Asked if a veteran quarterback signee would have to be one familiar with his offense, Martz said: "That would always help. That's for sure. But he doesn't have to be. A good player is a good player."

LeFevour was joined at rookie camp by former University of Illinois quarterback Isiah "Juice" Williams, 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 extensively worked with both quarterbacks 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. I've just got to tie it all together with the concept things I've learned, and it should get a lot better."

Without contact drills, the Bears could have just a brief glimpse of the skills of their top three draft picks: safety Major Wright, defensive end Corey Wootton and cornerback Joshua Moore. On Sunday, Moore came up with an interception during seven-on-seven drills.

"Some of the skill guys normally stand out," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "I like the way Dan threw the ball there the last day. Some of the receivers made some catches. We have a few of the cornerbacks that may have an opportunity. Our draft picks, Major Wright, Corey Wootton, those guys performed about the way we thought they would."

Without contact drills, it was difficult to get a gauge on fourth-round pick Wootton, a pass rusher from Northwestern, or seventh-round selection J'Marcus Webb, an offensive tackle. At 6-foot-8, 330 pounds, Webb impressed merely by taking the field.

"He's a big athlete," Smith said. "That's what we're able to see. He can move. He's a knee-bender. He has great size. He's anxious. He's been picking up things fairly well."

One area the Bears aren't looking to add talent is wide receiver. They didn't draft one and insist Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett, Juaquin Iglesias and Rashied Davis are fine.

"I think that our receiver corps will be the strength of this team," Martz said. "You can put that in granite."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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