In another sign that the Bears believe they will be healed up soon at linebacker, the club has made a roster move at the position with an eye toward special teams and not the defense.
That means Derrick Brooks is not coming to town. Instead, veteran linebacker Darrell McClover has been brought in for the second time in just more than a month, according to a source close to the player. McClover was signed by the team and takes the place of DeAngelo Smith, who was claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Browns two weeks ago. The Chicago Tribune first reported Smith would be cut. McClover can help on special teams immediately, an area that has been thinned out because of the injuries at linebacker. The Bears signed Tim Shaw was as a young guy who could come in and help out on special teams after Brian Urlacher was lost for the season. McClover can also do that and he's probably more familiar with the defense than Shaw.
McClover was the sixth linebacker the team kept on the roster last year. He appeared in 10 games but was placed on injured reserve in late November with a pulled hamstring. He produced 14 tackles on special teams and added a blocked punt. McClover made 36 special teams tackles in 28 games for the Bears from 2006 to 2008, earning the nickname "Commando" from teammates. He had a tryout with the Houston Texans during the offseason, and then was brought in for the final two preseason games where the Bears got a look at him and then made him one of the final roster cuts.
Middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer has a rib injury, and strong-side linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa is working his way back from a sprained right knee. There is a chance one or both will be available for Sunday's game vs. Detroit. In the event they cannot play, McClover is probably more familiar with the scheme than Shaw. However, be clear that the team is not re-signing McClover to play on defense. This was a made move to bolster Dave Toub's special teams units that have been mixed up by the injuries.
Smith could be a candidate to return to the practice squad if he is not picked up elsewhere. He was a fifth-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys.