On Monday morning, Vaughn McClure tweeted that the Bears waived running back Kahlil Bell (again), and were expected to sign a wide receiver to take his place on the roster. And that would make sense, given the fractured hand that will keep rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery sidelined for the next three-to-five weeks.
Instead, the Bears signed a tight end to the roster, in Brody Eldridge:
LM: #Bears sign TE Brody Eldridge and waive RB Kahlil Bell.And hey, tight ends serve as receivers too... although we haven't seen that happen much with the Bears over the last few years. That may be a big part of Phil Emery's thinking, as the Bears are really trying to get more out of the tight ends in their passing game (like most of the other good teams are).
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 15, 2012
The signing of Eldridge certainly didn't come out of left field, though, as the Bears put Eldridge through a workout last Tuesday at Halas Hall.
The 25-year-old was waived by the Rams in August, and that may not have been because the Rams didn't want him on their roster to start the season, but because he was ineligible to play in the first four games of the season, due to a PED suspension.
Eldridge was drafted out of Oklahoma by the Colts in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, and started 16 games for them over the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He caught five passes for 39 yards in '10, and nine passes for 45 yards in '11. In college, he never caught over four passes in a season, and had one touchdown. Additionally, his longest reception between the NFL and college is 12 yards.
Yep, the 6'5", 265-pounder has always been your classic "blocking" tight end, and even played some center and left guard as a senior at Oklahoma.
So, about all that stuff I gave you earlier about this signing in regards to the Bears wanting to get more out of the tight ends in their passing game? Well, it's possible the role for rookie Evan Rodriguez could change, and he becomes a weapon in the passing game, which he was drafted to do. Of course, he was doing a solid job blocking in the Bears' h-back role, and the team may not want to mess with him too much during his rookie season.
However, Rodriguez has missed the last two games with a sprained MCL, and while Lovie Smith's talked as though Rodriguez will be ready to go against the Lions, maybe that's still up in the air. So, the Eldridge signing could also be due to tight end/h-back depth while Rodriguez's health is in question.
But... this signing now leaves the Bears with a whopping FIVE tight ends on the roster (with of course none of them serving as a major part of the passing game, yet), and Matt Spaeth's done a nice job filling in for Rodriguez's role. Maybe Kyle Adams is soon to be the odd man out?
It'll be interesting to see what Emery has to to say about all this.
UPDATE: Zach Zaidman tweeted this quote from Eldridge:
Brody Eldridge: "Hope to get into the backfield, play a little fullback. Haven't done that since college, but something that I enjoy."That would certainly lead you to believe that Rodriguez isn't ready to return.
— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) October 15, 2012
UPDATE #2: Well, Rodriguez was able to participate in Monday's practice.
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