Chicago Bears second-year WR Joe Anderson is not your “average Joe.” The Texas Southern product fought his way onto the Bears practice squad last year after making a strong impression in training camp with his speed and tenacious special teams play. Then, when injuries mounted, he was promoted to the active roster and stood out on coverage units in the season’s final three games.
Fast forward to 2013, where Anderson, a former undrafted free agent, is competing for a roster spot in a retooled Bears offense. His early play in camp has caught the eyes of observers, including new Bears head coach Marc Trestman. Anderson combines above average speed with solid hands, crisp route running, and a high degree of football intelligence. As a wideout, he’s quick in and out of breaks, using his 6-2 frame to his advantage to shield smaller defensive backs.
While it’s still early and much is left to be decided with a full slate of preseason games beginning next week, Anderson provides the versatility the Beasrs are seeking. He’s determined to make his presence felt, whether as a fourth or fifth wide receiver, or as a core special teams player.
After getting a “taste” last season, Anderson knows he can play in the pay-for-play league. “You put yourself in a position by working hard, and develop confidence. From the moment I got here, I knew I belonged. Confidence is everything when you are on the field. Whatever they want me to do, whether it’s wide receiver or speical teams, I’ll do.”
Anderson thinks the offseason and a full year has aided his development. “Coming in as a rookie, it’s almost like you’re a sponge, just trying to soak in everything. You just try to take it all in. This year, I know what to expect and it helped me in my preparation. I’m much more mentally stronger and everything has slowed down.
He also points to the time on the practice squad as a way to improve. “Spending the time on the practice squad gave me a lot of mental reps, which was almost more important than the physical reps.”
While Anderson appreciated former coach Lovie Smith and the opportunity, he’s excited about the change with Marc Trestman and a fast-paced approach. “Coach Trestman is full of energy. You want to play for a guy like that. He’s a humble guy and treats everyone fair. We’ve adapted well.”
Asked to express his goals for the 2013 Bears season, Anderson sounds assured and confident, but not boastful. “My main goal ultimately is to win a championship, but I want to make a statement in every way, as a receiver, as a special teams player. I want to make a name for myself in this league. Most importantly, I want to continue to improve and earn the respect of my teammates.”
With his long strides and quiet confidence, don’t bet against Anderson being a contributor this season.
Bear Tracks: The Bears waived K Austin Signor and signed LB Andrew Starks. Starks, a Plainfield, Illinois native who played collegiately at Princeton, is 6-2, 240. In his last two years, he earned All-Ivy League second team honors (96 tackles as a senior, 80 as a junior)….Friday’s practice was rescheduled from morning to mid-afternoon due to inclement weather….A number of veterans sat out the workout including DE Julius Peppers, LB Lance Briggs, WR Brandon Marshall, and CB Charles Tillman….The Bears made a move at TE as well, waiving Brody Eldridge and signing, pending the physical, veteran TE Leonard Pope.