Kicker Robbie Gould will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2012 season.
Injuries to key players certainly aren't helping the cause, and on Tuesday, the news only got worse on that front for the Bears as they prepare to face the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Kicker Robbie Gould, safety Craig Steltz, and cornerback Sherrick McManis were all placed on injured reserve, officially ending their seasons (including the playoffs).
The Bears have signed veteran kicker Olindo Mare to replace Gould, while wide receiver Joe Anderson was promoted to the 53-man roster from the practice squad, and linebacker Jerry Franklin was signed to the roster off the Cowboys' practice squad. Additionally, the Bears waived recently-signed veteran offensive lineman Andre Gurode, and signed guard Chris Riley back to the practice squad (after recently releasing him from it). Lots, and lots of roster moves... none of which the Bears really wanted to make.
Gould suffered a left calf injury against the Vikings, which forced the Bears to only use him on extra-point attempts. The Bears passed up a 53-yard field goal try in the game and chose to punt due to Gould's injury, and punter Adam Podlesh handled the kickoff duties.
The severity of Gould's calf injury is unknown, but clearly it's serious enough that the Bears didn't think he could play by week 17. While keeping two kickers on a 53-man roster would be a luxury and a half, Gould's value is certainly enough where I would do it if I knew he could return by week 17. He has the fifth-highest career field goal percentage (85.6%) among active NFL kickers, and is as clutch of a kicker as you'll ever find. He's nailed big kick after big kick for the Bears in his career. Look at the 46-yarder he drilled to put the Seahawks game into overtime as an example. When he's out there for such a kick, it feels like an almost certainty he's going to connect. The same can be said for only a few kickers to ever play the game.
The good news, though, is that Mare is no bum himself, although at 39, isn't the kicker he once was. Mare was an All-Pro in 1999 for the Dolphins, and was absolutely outstanding for the following two seasons. He's bounced around the league, with his most recent stop being with the Panthers in 2011, where he connected on 22 of 28 field goals (78.6%). He's no Robbie Gould, but he should be able to do a serviceable job at least (fingers crossed).
Steltz (or, as I like to call him, Rod Belding) suffered a pectoral injury against the Vikings, and according to Michael C. Wright, may need surgery:
Steltz suffered a right pectoral injury that might require surgery to repair, according to a league source. He tried to keep playing after he sustained the injury late in the second quarter against the Vikings but was eventually ruled out for the remainder of the game and left the Metrodome with his right arm in a sling.Steltz was a backup safety for the Bears, but the veteran's absence will particularly be missed on special teams coverage.
And that's the case even more for McManis, a cornerback on the team solely for his tremendous abilities in special teams coverage. McManis apparently suffered a PCL injury against the Vikings, but there's no details on how serious the injury is. Without Steltz and McManis, Dave Toub will have to find new players to step into important special teams roles.
Anderson was signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Southern, and has impressed in training camp/preseason/practice. According to Brad Biggs, another team was going to sign Anderson off the Bears' practice squad had they not put him on the 53-man roster:
Had #Bears not signed WR Joe Anderson to the 53-man roster, another team was going to sign him off the team's practice squad.I've wanted the 6'1", 196-pound Anderson to get some game action, as he appears to have some big-play ability and good size at the wide receiver position. But I wouldn't bet on him getting more than a few snaps over the final three games, unless the Bears deal with more injuries at the wide receiver position (and given how things have gone over these last couple of months, that will probably happen).
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) December 11, 2012
Franklin, an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas, signed a two-year deal on Tuesday after spending time on the practice squad for the Broncos, Panthers, and Cowboys this season. The 6'1", 245-pound linebacker led Arkansas in tackles in each of his four seasons at the SEC school, finishing with over 100 tackles in his junior and senior seasons. He gives the Bears some depth at linebacker with Urlacher out, and the Bears' intentions may have been to evaluate him for a potential 2013 roster spot, with Urlacher's Bears' (and NFL) future very much up in the air.
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