LAKE FOREST – Thanks to a move made on Monday, his Sunday was going to look a lot different.
That’s because this Lake Zurich native was going to find himself in the starting lineup for the Bears’ game against the Dolphins at Soldier Field.
Roquan Smith’s trade to the Ravens meant that rookie Jack Sanborn was getting his shot with the first team, a major moment for the Bears’ undrafted free agent linebacker out of Wisconsin.
So how did he feel?
“I was a little nervous leading up to it but then when we got to the stadium, I felt pretty good,” said Sanborn as his pre-game jitters didn’t last long. “It was kinda what I expected, but you never know. It’s first NFL start, really playing a big role for the team, but I was proud of how I handled it.”
While the defense struggled for a majority of the afternoon against Miami, Sanborn was able to hold his own, making seven tackles on the afternoon. He said this week that he’s looking to improve overall instead of one specific area as the linebacker likely sees heavy playing time this Sunday against the Lions at Soldier Field.
But Sanborn did have one thing he was pleased about himself from NFL start No. 1.
“How the moment wasn’t too big,” said Sanborn when asked about what he liked the most from his effort against the Dolphins. “How I was able to stay relaxed out there, stay calm, and do my job.”
Becoming a starter continues a great local story for the 2022 Bears as the Lake Zurich native earned himself a spot on the team’s opening day roster as an undrafted free agent. He saw time mostly on special teams before Sunday and now has 12 total tackles in nine games.
While he’ll have a lot to show over the rest of the season to figure into the Bears’ linebacker plans beyond this season, he did earn the respect of defensive coordinator Alan Williams.
“He looked like he belonged,” said Williams of Sanborn. “Didn’t have errors, tackled well, ran around well. So you come out of that ballgame going, ‘OK, step forward. Now let’s take one more step forward.’
“So that’s the one that comes to mind when you have a guy that, hey, first start in the NFL, and he looks like he belongs.”
The young linebacker certainly felt comfortable in that position after a few early nerves.