Following up on a story released earlier today by the Chicago Sun-Times, punter Brad Maynard will miss the first game in his 11-year career on Sunday. To replace him the Bears have signed veteran free-agent Dirk Johnson to handle the chores against the Kansas City Chiefs, a move the Sun-Times speculated would happen in Saturday's edition. Johnson has experience with special teams coordinator Dave Toub -- the pair worked together in Philadelphia in 2003 -- and he was chosen from a group of four Saturday morning at Halas Hall.
The Bears also considered 10-year veteran Scott Player, but not for long. By the time Player got to Halas Hall on Saturday, the organization had already signed Johnson to a contract. Also flown in were journeymen Danny Baugher and Glenn Pakulak.
To make room for Johnson, cornerback Ade Jimoh was let go. He is expected to return once the punting situation is cleared up. The Bears made a similar move with Shane Matthews in 2001, cutting him on a Saturday to bring in a long snapper to fill in for Pat Mannelly for one game. Matthews was brought back the next week.
Baugher was released by New England at the end of August, and was charged with assaulting his 54-year-old father in a fast-food parking lot at 4 a.m. the day after the Patriots launched him. According to the Boston Herald, he told police "he was released by the New England Patriots and he was not handling it very well."
Pakulak has bounced around with five organizations, most recently Tennessee.
Johnson averaged 42.6 yards per punt last season, and was one of the final cuts by the Eagles. He also has experience holding, a chore Maynard handles. Johnson, however, held for the Eagles' David Akers, a left-footed kicker. Holding for the right-footed Robbie Gould will be different.
Rich De Luca, Maynard's agent, told the Sun-Times his client's groin tightened up on the team's late plane ride home from San Diego last weekend. Maynard was not added to the injury report until Friday.
"Brad's not playing," De Luca said Saturday. "He thinks it should be just this weekend in terms of missing time."
For more details on the transaction, see the Sun-Times' Sunday edition. For more on Johnson's addition, check back here later on.