Chicago Sun-Times

Obafemi Ayanbadejo hoping for return next week

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When fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo got to his home in San Diego at the beginning of the month following the start of his NFL-mandated four-game suspension, he stepped on the scales and weighed 227.4 pounds.

When the fullback weighed himself this morning, he was 227.4 pounds, ready to return to action. Ayanbadejo is eligible to be reinstated from the suspended list Monday and the Bears will have to release a player to make room for him. It’s unknown if a decision has been reached at Halas Hall.

``Technically, I’m under contract,’’ Ayanbadejo said Friday afternoon. ``The only thing I would hear from them is, `Don’t show up.’ I haven’t heard that, so it looks good right now. Depending on what happens Sunday, I’m planning to be at the facility Monday or Wednesday, whenever players are supposed to report.’’

Ayanbadejo was suspended for violating the league’s policy on steroids and related substances. He tested positive for having a estrogen blocker in his system. It’s the reason the Arizona Cardinals released him.

Although he has a place near his younger brother Brendon, Ayanbadejo spent the majority of the month in San Diego training with Randy Shelton at San Diego State University.

``I needed to stay ready to go,’’ he said. ``So I got back here and worked out like it was June or July and I was getting prepared for the season. I’ve maintained my weight. I’m healthy and I’m ready.’’

The Bears have a backup to fullback Jason McKie on the roster in Lousaka Polite. He has not dressed for a game this season, and the Bears dressed two fullbacks just once last year. Ayanbadejo is under contract for one season at the minimum salary benefit. That means he would receive pro-rated pay of $720,000 for the season, but count the pro-rated portion of $435,000 against the salary cap.

The physical part has not been as tough on him as the mental aspect of the suspension.

``During the week it has been pretty easy for me,’’ he said. ``But when it gets close to the weekend, it’s been weird. I’ve never been a big fan of watching football. I’ve kind of always viewed that as my time to get away. And that’s all I have been doing. I’ve been analyzing the Bears games, watching my former team in Arizona and even Baltimore. I used to play for the Ravens. I’ve been doing my best to keep up with everybody.’’

The bottom line will likely come down to whether or not the Bears feel he can make a major impact on special teams. He’s been a standout, like his brother in the past, but you can’t be a standout if you’re not dressing on gameday and the team has been reluctant to have two fullbacks in uniform under Lovie Smith.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on September 28, 2007 3:59 PM.

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