Bears

Bears waive 2014 fourth-round pick Brock Vereen

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Bears waive 2014 fourth-round pick Brock Vereen

A day after trading linebacker Jonathan Bostic to New England, the Bears have jettisoned another Phil Emery draft pick by waiving safety Brock Vereen, who had begun training camp as the starting free safety and for whom the Bears had traded up in the 2014 draft.

In moves expected to upgrade their troubled special teams, the Bears signed linebacker Chris Prosinski and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds.

Vereen’s decline was precipitous, culminating with him being beaten badly by Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham for a 30-yard touchdown. Vereen, the Bears’ second fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft, played just three regular-down snaps in the Seattle game, with the Graham catch the low point.

[MORE BEARS: Bears trading Jared Allen, Jon Bostic better than mere 'rebuilding']

Vereen also was in on 17 special-teams snaps in a game that included a 105-yard kickoff return and 64-yard punt return. Vereen was not involved in any tackles vs. the Seahawks and was credited with just one assisted tackle for the season.

Vereen becomes the third Emery draft choice let go by the Bears this year, beginning with linebacker Khaseem Greene in May and continuing with Bostic on Monday.

In Vereen’s place the Bears signed safety Chris Prosinski, who has appeared in 56 games with nine starts over four seasons with Jacksonville (2011-14) and Philadelphia (2014), collecting 73 tackles, one TFL, one interception and six pass break-ups.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

On special teams Prosinski has recorded 27 tackles and one fumble recovery. Listed at 6-2, 208-pounds, the Wyoming native was originally a fourth-round selection (121st overall) of the Jaguars in the 2011 draft out of Wyoming.

Also looking to beef up special teams, the Bears added linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, a veteran of 30 games with three starts over three seasons in Jacksonville (2013-15), producing 22 tackles, one TFL and a pass break-up.

On special teams Reynolds was credited with 18 tackles and a fumble recovery. Listed at 6-1, 240-pounds the Norfolk, Virginia native entered the NFL in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia.

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”