Mannelly in game for long haul

The Bears define big plays on defense as an interception, forced fumble, fumble recovery or touchdown and have a points system to chart it.

The first year the board was up, Charles Tillman led the team with 11 points. The second year, Tillman led with 10. Last year, he had a team-high 13. This season, Tillman has a record 21, with a chance to add to it Sunday.

Tillman has led the team in big plays every year for nine seasons, according to coach Lovie Smith.

"He's off the charts," Marinelli said. "I've said that now for three years really. There's nobody in the history of the league who can pull the ball out like he does. Nobody."

Front office chess: So long, Dane

For 16 weeks, Dane Sanzenbacher managed to be in a position other than the 53rd man on the Bears' roster. On the 17th week, he was 53rd.

As a result, the Bears had to waive him Tuesday to make room for safety Troy Nolan. The Bengals then claimed him.

The Bears had five healthy wide receivers ahead of Sanzenbacher on the offensive depth chart. And they were carrying a sixth, Joe Anderson, who was ahead of Sanzenbacher as a special teams player.

Sanzenbacher was active in five games and played 65 snaps, but he caught only one pass. There were times when the Bears really needed a wide receiver to step up. Sanzenbacher, whether it was his fault or not, never did.

Sanzenbacher fit Mike Martz's offense a lot better than he fit Mike Tice's. To thrive, Sanzenbacher needs a short, quick passing game. He needs an accurate passer who makes quick decisions.

He didn't have what he needed in Chicago, and the Bears didn't lose much in waiving him.

Sanzenbacher never is going to be Wes Welker as he is not nearly as quick or explosive.

But he can be more than he was as a Bear — if he finds the right offense.

Twitter @danpompei