Fullback Tyler Clutts was willing and able in place of long-snapper Patrick Mannelly in the Bears' 31-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. But with a playoff berth and postseason hopes on the line, the Bears prefer to have a full-time long-snapper instead of a handyman like Clutts, who already is playing on offense and special teams.
Rookie defensive end Jake Laptad, who was cut at the end of training camp, will be at Halas Hall on Tuesday and will get first crack at winning the job to replace Mannelly, who was put on injured reserve after suffering a torn ACL on Sunday.
The 6-4, 257-pound Laptad had 21.5 sacks and 33.5 tackles-for-loss in four seasons at Kansas. He worked with Mannelly on long-snapping in training camp and did the long-snapping in the final preseason game against the Browns -- handling 10 long-snapping assignments, including six punts, without a problem. On a 55-yard punt by Adam Podlesh at the end of the first half, he showed the coverage skills coveted in a long-snapper when tackled returner James Dockery for a four-yard loss. An illegal-block on Clutts -- a Browns special-teams player at the time -- turned it into a 66-yard play.
Whoever gets the job will have a challenging opening assignment against the Raiders. Last year the Chargers went to Oakland in Week 5 with their fourth long-snapper of the season. In veteran Ethan Albright's second game as the San Diego long-snapper, punter Mike Scifres had his first two punts blocked. His third punt was returned 46 yards. Albright was released three days later.