Tyler Clutts always seems to land on his feet.
A defensive end at Fresno State who played fullback, special teams and even did some long-snapping to make it in the NFL, Clutts was the odd-man out as the Bears' cut their roster to the 53-player maximum Friday -- a fullback in an offense the prefers ''H-back'' tight ends as a lead blocker.
But instead of getting cut outright, the Bears traded Clutts to the Houston Texans for veteran cornerback Sherrick MaManis. The Texans reportedly were not he only team interested in Clutts.
Regardless, Clutts left Chicago and headed for Houston on Friday night with mixed emotions.
''It's bittersweet,'' he told the Sun-Times. ''It's tough leaving a place like Chicago. But I'm really excited about the new opportuity. Really with a great organization that is on the rise.''
Clutts was in a similar situation last year. He was cut by the Cleveland Browns and placed on their practice squad. But the next day the Bears called and offered him a spot on their 53-man roster.
Clutts took advantage of the opportunity and played a key role not only on special teams -- on the field for several key returns -- but also as a blocking back in Mike Martz's offense. Most of Matt Forte's success as a rusher last year came when Clutts was on the field.
But without a similar role under Mike Tice, Clutts became expendable as the Bears ended up keeping a fourth tight end -- Kyle Adams -- instead of a fullback.
''I went in in the morning and coach Lovie [Smith] told me that there were some things in the works,'' he said. ''[They] kind of had to play the waiting game a little bit. The Bears did a great job of keeping me informed and really trying to get me to the best possible team.''
Clutts, who lives near Fresno, Calif., where he went to college, leaves with a healthy respect and fine appreciation for Chicago and Bears fans, who have an almost over-the-top affinity for hard-nosed, hard-working, blue-collar, lunch-bucket players who beat the odds like Clutts. He will miss them as much as they will miss him.
''No question,'' Clutts said. ''It's a great city with great fans, great people It was a great team to be a part of. I'm really going to miss the city. I had a blast. I couldn't have asked for a better year.''