Bears

Bears roster adjustments continue; practice squad formed including QB Matt Barkley

Bears roster adjustments continue; practice squad formed including QB Matt Barkley

The cliché from NFL personnel and coaches is that their teams are constantly looking to improve. In the case of the Bears, they are walking the walk, and at a very brisk pace.

Besides making a strong play and planning the first visit with Josh Sitton after the three-time Pro Bowler was released Saturday by the Green Bay Packers, the Bears struck quickly to upgrade the depth chart at center, tight end and cornerback with waiver claims less than 24 hours after making their initial decisions on their own final 53-man roster.

The Bears went aggressively after an upgrade at tight end behind starter Zach Miller, signing veteran Logan Paulsen after the latter’s release from the Washington Redskins. Paulsen, considered a top special-teams contributor, missed all of last season after toe surgery but had rebounded to compete through training camp. But Washington had added veteran tight end Vernon Davis and jettisoned Paulsen, with 79 catches, six touchdowns and 801 yards in 42 career starts.

Added via claims were center Eric Kush, a 2013 draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, and cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, whom the Bears practiced against in New England before the Patriots waived him this weekend.

But the clearest organizational statement lay in the ambitious push to land Sitton, another effort indicating that the Bears are treating 2016 as considerably more than a time for treading water while they wait for an influx of talent through drafts. Sitton, 30, has dealt with some back issues but started 16 games in six of his last seven seasons.

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The Bears will be Kush’s sixth team in less than four seasons, beginning with Kansas City from 2013-15, followed by very brief stops with Tampa Bay, Carolina, Houston and the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.

To make roster space for Kush the Bears waived center Cornelius Edison. Versatile DB Demontre Hurst was let go to clear space for LeBlanc.

Khari Lee, acquired last preseason in a trade with the Houston Texans, was waived to clear a spot for Paulsen.

Edison, Hurst and Lee all are eligible for the Bears’ 10-man practice squad if and when they clear waivers. In the meantime the Bears brought back to the developmental squad receiver Daniel Braverman, tight end Ben Braunecker, cornerback De’Vante Bausby, running back Senorise Perry, linebacker John Timu and offensive lineman Jason Weaver, all of whom were with the Bears through preseason.

ESPN reported that the Bears were signing former USC quarterback Matt Barkley to the practice squad. Barkley, once projected to be a top-10 pick in the 2012 draft, elected to stay in school an additional year. When he came out the following year, his draft stock had fallen because of a shoulder injury and he lasted until the fourth round (98th overall) when the Philadelphia Eagles selected him.

The Eagles traded him to the Arizona Cardinals in Sept. 2015 and released him this weekend.

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

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USA Today

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

The Bears are back in Chicago and Tom Brady and the Patriots are in town! With a week of practice wrapping up today, here's what's been happening in the lead up to Sunday's Bears-Pats matchup: 

Adam Schefter: Bears plan on Khalil Mack playing vs. Patriots

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USA TODAY

Adam Schefter: Bears plan on Khalil Mack playing vs. Patriots

Khalil Mack has yet to miss a game in his NFL career. He doesn’t plan on breaking that streak on Sunday.

ESPN insider Adam Schefter told the “Kirk and Callahan show” on WEEI in Boston that the Bears expect their star pass rusher to play this week against the New England Patriots.

Mack missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with the ankle injury he suffered last week against the Miami Dolphins.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio indicated this week that the outside linebacker could potentially play even if he doesn’t practice due to the injury.

Assuming Mack does take the field on Sunday, he won’t be 100 percent, and it’s unclear how much of an impact he’ll be able to have.

Last week was his least productive game of the season, and he earned a career-low grade from Pro Football Focus, with two missed tackles and only one pressure generated on 33 pass-rushing snaps.

The Bears are going to need more from Mack to slow down Tom Brady and the Patriots offense that’s averaging nearly 40 points per game over the last three weeks.