Boomer already covered the major transactions in week 3 but the Bears made a few more moves earlier this week. The Bears kick return game has been disappointing through the first two weeks of preseason games and GM Phil Emery has decided to do something about it. The Bears signed RB/KR Darius Reynaud to a 1-year deal on Monday. The Bears had tried veteran Eric Weems and 2nd-year RB Michael Ford at kick returner so far this preseason and neither has impressed. Canadian import Chris Williams was expected to get a look as a returner but a hamstring injury has kept him on the sidelines for the last two weeks. Weems was released last week to make room for new wide receiver Santonio Holmes and Ford’s roster spot could be in jeopardy if Reynaud makes the team.
Reynaud, 29, is a 6-year NFL veteran who entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Vikings in 2008. He has spent time with 4 teams (MIN, NYG, TEN, NYJ) in his career, most recently with both the Titans and Jets last year. Reynaud has experience returning both punts and kicks and had his best season in 2012 with the Titans when he led the NFL in total return yards. He returned 2 punts for touchdowns in 2012 and his average yards per punt return (13.9) was 2nd in the NFL. As a kick returner Reynaud had a 105-yard TD return and a 23.4 yards per return average which was good for 19th in the league. Reynaud went into the 2013 season as the Titans primary return man, but was released after a muffed punt ruined the Titans comeback attempt in a week 7 loss to the 49ers. Seems a little harsh to me, but it could benefit the Bears if Reynaud can show flashes of his 2012 form. Reynaud is listed as a running back but isn’t expected to contribute in the backfield, he is strictly a return specialist and an improvement over what the Bears currently have on the roster.
The Bears also signed former Redskins CB Peyton Thompson who was released on Sat (8/9) after a rough preseason game the night before. Thompson allowed a TD reception and was picked on repeatedly by Patriot QBs. Thompson came into the league in 2012 as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons. He has spent the last two seasons on practice squads (ATL, WAS) and has yet to suit up for an NFL game. This move surprises me as the Bears have a few young corners who have really played well the first two preseason games (Hurst, Louis-Jean, Wilson) and are fighting for maybe one roster spot.
In corresponding roster moves the Bears waived punter Tress Way and long-snapper Chad Rempel. The release of Way leaves rookie Pat O’Donnell as the only punter on the roster and all but a lock for the starting job, which is no surprise after how well he punted in the Bears second preseason game (48.7 yards per punt). Rempel’s release also has roster implications as it leaves 2nd-year player Brandon Hartson as the only long-snapper on the team. Both of these players have presumably won the starting job at their respective positions for the Bears, but there is still time for the Bears to bring in a veteran at either position if warranted.