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No move is official yet, but running back Kahlil Bell said he expects to be signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster before Sunday's game with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Bell has been on the practice squad for more than two months, and he's up to speed on the offensive playbook and as importantly the role on special teams he would play, if he is active for the game.

"If the opportunity comes for me, I'm comfortable,'' he said. "I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on everything. Special teams-wise, we have a high standard here, and I think I'm pretty good in that area. Whatever they ask me to do, if I get that opportunity, I am just going to try to help the team.''

The Bears made it official and have placed running back Garrett Wolfe on season-ending injured reserve.

Wolfe suffered a lacerated kidney Nov. 8 vs. Arizona. Wolfe is expected to make a full recovery and he is signed through 2010.

Running back Garrett Wolfe is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a lacerated kidney.

Wolfe was hospitalized for three nights following the Arizona game on Nov. 8, and while the hope was that he would be able to return before the end of the season, that's not a possibility. Wolfe is expected to make a complete return, though, and general manager Jerry Angelo expressed a desire to see him receive more opportunities last week.

"He's a great kid and it's unfortunate,'' Angelo said. ``I was hoping he would start integrating more into the offense and [offensive coordinator] Ron [Turner] was using him more in practices, and he's done a good job on special teams. I wanted to see him take another step as a runner.''

The Holy Cross and Northern Illinois product had 22 carries for 120 yards this season, ranking him second behind Matt Forte. He caught two passes for 12 yards, but his most prominent role was on special teams. He's tied for third with nine tackles, eight of which are solos.

Charles Tillman vowed to be ready to go Thursday night at San Francisco after being knocked out of Sunday's game with a left shoulder injury, and rookie strong safety Al Afalava labeled himself day-to-day.

The Bears weren't just beat by Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner, who threw five touchdown passes in the 41-21 Cardinals' victory at Soldier Field, they were beat up. Tillman left the game after trying to arm tackle wide receiver Steve Breaston on an end around as he was blocked by wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

"I will be ready to see Isaac Bruce and [Michael] Crabtree, Josh Morgan and Vernon Davis,'' Tillman said. "That guy can run. He's not your average tight end."

Tillman was knocked out of multiple games last season with shoulder injuries, and he has a history of subluxations in his career. He underwent surgery on his right shoulder in January but said that he will not be worried about his shoulders returning to the field.

Afalava was knocked out of the game when he re-injured his right shoulder that first became a problem in preseason. Afalava said after the game that he expected to have an MRI today, but that apparently didn't happen.

Running back Garrett Wolfe was taken to the hospital during the second half of Sunday's game and will remain hospitalized for another day with what is believed to be a lacerated kidney, a source told the Sun-Times.

Wolfe was knocked out of the loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field with what the team described as a back injury, but Wolfe was urinating blood at halftime, and was taken for medical treatment and evaluation immediately.

The injury is not believed to be serious longterm, and it could be something that Wolfe heals from in two to four weeks. It's unknown how that would affect his roster status. The Bears went two games without running back Adrian Peterson while he nursed a sprain knee. Wolfe is considered a key special teams player.

The fake punt the Bears ran that backfired in an embarrassing way on Sunday at Green Bay is still in the playbook.

Leading 12-10 early in the fourth quarter, and facing fourth-and-11 from their own 26-yard line, the Bears tried a run up the middle by running back Garrett Wolfe, who is the personal protector on punts. Long snapper Pat Mannelly had counted 12 players on the field for the Packers, the play was to see if Wolfe could pick up the first down. Otherwise, the Bears would line up and punt again after a five-yard penalty.

"He saw 12 and there was 12,'' special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "He turns around to tell Garrett. As soon as he turned, the guy [Clay Matthews] ran off the field. He didn't see him run off the field and he still thought there were 12. It's a no-brainer if there are 12. It's a first down or you kick it again.''

Mannelly, a 12-year veteran from Duke with a sterling resume, accepted full responsibility afterward for the error. The Bears challenged the play, but officials counted just 11, noting Matthews got off the field on time after the replay review. Toub said Wolfe should have been more aware also in the pre-snap communications.

"You just have to check it,'' Toub said. "Garrett has to check it as well. He could have checked it. It's something that is a rare thing, something we talk about but not something we sit out here and practice. Garrett could see it and make a call to alert Pat."

So, if 12 Steelers are on the field when the Bears line up to punt on Sunday, look for Wolfe to get the ball again. After a re-count, of course.

Either I missed the story online that is in Saturday's print edition, or somewhere it got lost in the shuffle on the World Wide Web. So here is the unedited version of the story that is or was to be printed in Saturday's paper:

The Bears are going to have to evaluate one of the first goals of their offseason after discovering Friday running back Kevin Jones will miss the season with a torn ligament in his left ankle.

Jones, who they were featuring Thursday against Cleveland at Soldier Field to get a little extra work in before the regular season begins, jumped into the air along the sideline and when he landed on his left foot it buckled. An MRI revealed the damage and he will undergo surgery next week. Rehabilitation is expected to take 10 months, but Jones proved he was a quick healer when he came back from a torn ACL in his right knee last summer.

While he was a luxury addition last year, Jones was headed for an expanded role as Matt Forte's primary backup when he returned with a $3.5 million, two-year contract. Adrian Peterson might have been on the bubble to make the club and now he's a lock for the 53-man roster when it's officially announced later today along with Garrett Wolfe. The Bears could seek a free agent but word around the league was they are content to roll with three backs for now.

``We were anxious to give him a lot of carries and see where he was,'' offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. ``I feel bad for him. He's had a good training camp and I know he was looking forward to getting a chance to make some plays and was excited about playing. You hate to see it.''

The question is whether or not Forte will get off the field. He rarely did last season, participating in 84 percent of the club's offensive snaps, the highest figure for a back in the league. Forte was third in the NFL with 316 rushes, and when you add in 63 receptions, he had 379 touches, most for the Bears since Walter Payton had 434 in 1984. Turner talked on multiple occasions last season about working in others, and the danger now is it will be all talk again. Forte was dogged by a toe injury late last season and the workload wore on him a little bit on his way to setting a rookie franchise record with 1,238 yards.

``It's tough,'' Forte said. ``A.P. has been playing, this is his eighth year, he knows what he's doing too. We've got Garrett too. We don't have any issues with that. We're real confident with both of them getting in the game.''

Running back Kevin Jones suffered a torn ligament in his left ankle in the first quarter of Thursday night's game at Soldier Field.

Jones has been informed that he will require surgery to repair the injury, and the rehabilitation process will take up to 10 months.

This means the veteran will be out for this season.

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We come to our second to final position-by-position breakdown as we close in on packing our bags and heading to Bourbonnais, Ill., and the campus of Olivet Nazarene University. This morning we target special teams.

Projected starters: K Robbie Gould, 6-0, 185, 5th season, Penn State; P Brad Maynard, 6-1, 188, 13th season, Ball State; LS Pat Mannelly, 6-5, 265, 12th season, Duke; KR Danieal Manning, 5-11, 202, 4th season, Abilene Christian; PR Devin Hester, 5-11, 190, 4th season, Miami.

2009 salary cap numbers

Robbie Gould $2,905,200
Devin Hester $6,885,833
Pat Mannelly $962,200
Danieal Manning $885,200
Brad Maynard $1,392,280

Number of specialists on the roster at the start of the 2008 season: 3

Projected number of specialists on 2009 roster at start of the season: 3

The skinny: The Bears didn't get the kind of electric scores they grew accustomed to from Hester, but they still scored on special teams in 2008. Manning ran back a kickoff for a touchdown, Brandon Lloyd and Garrett Wolfe both scored on blocked punts and Zack Bowman scored on a muffed punt. Alex Brown also blocked a 38-yard field goal try by Green Bay's Mason Crosby in the Week 16 meeting with 18 seconds remaining in regulation. The Bears went on to win in overtime. So, it's not like Dave Toub's unit was without major contributions. No one can pinpoint exactly why Hester lost his edge in the return game. He averaged 21.9 yards on kickoffs where he saw about every gimmick imaginable and was worse on punts, averaging only 6.2 yards. There are a handful of theories, all of them probably valid in part. The biggest reason is pretty simple--Hester got a lot more work on offense and that took away from his return game. The stats certainly support that thinking. Hester was on the field for 631 offensive snaps last season vs. 226 in 2007. He had 121 special teams snaps in 2008 vs. 182 in 2007. Another key factor to consider is the turnover the Bears had on special teams. Playing without Pro Bowl special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo for the first time, Hester's return units lacked the mojo they had enjoyed previously. Ayanbadejo wasn't just a tremendous player, he was a leader and knew when the group needed an infusion of energy.

Still, special teams remained solid and wound up finishing eighth in the composite rankings compiled by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News after back-to-back No. 1 finishes. Manning would have been the NFC's Pro Bowl return man if he would have been promoted before the Nov. 16 game at Green Bay. He led the league in kickoff returns at 29.7 yards, and his success may lead opponents to approach him differently this time around. The coverage teams were solid but not as good as they have been in the past.

We've spent plenty of time here the last three-plus weeks discussing the big stories that lie ahead in training camp and how things will shake out. Let's mix it up this morning and go a different direction. Here is a list of eight players not expected to be in the starting lineup but worth watching during training camp and preseason. Some of them will need to perform well and against odds to land a spot on the 53-man roster. We chose only players who have never started a game in the NFL. A look:

Safety Al Afalava. The Bears went into the draft knowing they needed a free safety but with their draft position, they didn't identify any that would fill their need in what was considered a weak class. They wound up grabbing Afalava in the sixth round, and he's a strong safety although the Bears have said he can play both positions. He's a serious hitter and should provide some exciting moments late in some preseason games that are otherwise not exciting. It could be an uphill battle to make the roster and just being a thumper won't get it done for him. He needs to show instincts first. Missing the bulk of the offseason program because of the rules for schools like Oregon State that are on the quarter system didn't help him.

Cornerback Zack Bowman. He's got to be a candidate for the most improved player from last summer to now. Remember, Bowman didn't make the 53-man roster last September and started on the practice squad before getting a promotion. He did well for himself in shorts and a helmet this spring and needs to build off that momentum. The biggest challenge for the fifth-round draft pick from 2008 will be staying healthy. He's got to stay on the field.

Defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert. The real hit-or-miss nature of the Bears' drafts over the last five seasons makes you wonder about the current class of rookies. First-round pick Jay Cutler should look great. Ditto third-round pick Jay Cutler. The rest of the bunch is unknown and you might as well start with Gilbert, who was drafted to come in and help out a problem area for the defense on the line last season. They don't need him to be on the all-rookie team, and he doesn't have to start, but some meaningful contributions would help bolster the front seven.

Quarterback Caleb Hanie. All eyes will be on Cutler but Hanie's basically blank resume is going to make it imperative that he perform well in preseason. The Bears aren't going to panic if it looks sketchy behind Cutler, who has never missed an NFL start, but seeing some solid outings out of Hanie will make them feel pretty good about a potential No. 2 for a few seasons. You can be young and ineffective and hold down a job as a No. 3 a team is looking to develop. The backup needs to be able to come in and get a team through a game.

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Back to offense as we make our way through the positions on our way to training camp. Let's look at what the Bears have at running back. Fullback will follow later in the week.

Projected starter: Matt Forte, 6-2, 218 pounds, 2nd year, Tulane

Others

Kevin Jones, 6-0, 225, 6th year, Virginia Tech
Adrian Peterson, 5-10, 212, 7th year, Georgia Southern
Garrett Wolfe, 5-7, 185, 3rd year, Northern Illinois

Projected depth chart

Forte, Jones, Wolfe, Peterson

2009 salary cap numbers

Matt Forte $773,533
Kevin Jones $1,750,000
Adrian Peterson $770,000
Garrett Wolfe $620,825

Number of running backs on 2008 roster at start of the season:
4

Projected number of defensive ends on 2009 roster at start of the season: 3 or 4

The skinny: The Bears return the same bunch from 2008 with the hope that it will be even more productive. Forte had the most impressive rookie season in franchise history and now that Jones is 1 1/2 years removed from his ACL reconstruction, the belief is he will become a substantial contributor on offense. Jones also knows the offense now and the Bears outbid Buffalo for his services, the first of two players the Bears beat the Bills to this offseason. They later plucked linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa off the street despite overtures from Buffalo. Forte led all NFL running backs in receptions last season and while that's impressive, it's not exactly the sign of a healthy offense. Our bet is the Bears hope Forte doesn't lead the team in receptions again this season. He needs to improve his yards per carry of 3.9, and with a re-tooled offensive line and a new quarterback in Jay Cutler, there's ample reason to believe that can and will happen. He was fourth in the league with 316 carries last season and he simply dominated the playing time at the position. Forte was on the field for nearly 84 percent of the offensive snaps last season, a remarkable figure. The Bears have said they want to spread the action out more this season, and there's no doubt Jones is hoping they do just that. Forte needs to improve in short-yardage situations. He's an upright runner and that makes him an easier target. That takes care of the top two. There will be an interesting competition for the No. 3 job and it will not be settled by their play in the backfield alone. Wolfe and Peterson are both mainstays on special teams and Wolfe led the team with 21 tackles last season despite playing in only 13 games. Durability is going to be a concern with him at his size and Peterson wasn't as good as he has been in the past. Making this a numbers crunch is the presence of tight end Michael Gaines. If Gaines and second-year tight end Kellen Davis both make the roster, the squeeze figures to happen right here. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner has yet to find a role for Wolfe on offense even though the team has stated it would like to do just that. Peterson is what he is, a guy who can come off the bench and pick up what is blocked for him. Keep an eye on how they're being used in training camp and preseason. Four tight ends would likely spell only three running backs and then the Bears would likely find a back for the practice squad.

The upside: The upside would be Forte repeats with another 1,200-yard season and Jones tops 500 yards as a guy who gets close to one-third of the playing time.

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Need proof the NFL is a year-round business? We've got plenty of football news moving toward mid-June with training camp less than eight weeks away. We're going to get to a Four Down Territory Q&A on Monday, so if you have any last-minute questions to submit, get them in. Let's cover seven issues here in a hurry-up offense:

1. General manager Jerry Angelo addressed the health of former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris last week on the team's Web site. Harris has done occasional on-field work in the voluntary offseason workout program. When media was allowed at Halas Hall last Wednesday, Harris participated in positional drills.

"There's no major concern with him,'' Angelo said. "He's going to be up and going at some point here in the OTA's. We feel good about where he's at medically. There's nothing to be alarmed about. This is the offseason. We want to make sure that we take care of our players to the best of our ability and we're always going to err on the side of caution in the offseason. He's got an issue with his knee; we know that. He has to be smart about it, which he is. We've got to be smart about it, which we are. Is his knee pristine? No. it's not. But it's not something that he can't perform well with. We've been real smart about how to bring Tommie along in terms of his training program. He's not the only player. There are customized programs for most of our players because we don't want the wear and tear to happen during the offseason. We just want to be smart about how we bring our players along. We don't want to waste any mileage that players have in the offseason. The wear and tear comes during the season, not the offseason. The offseason is dedicated to conditioning, strengthening and training our players within our offensive and defensive schemes."

OUR SPIN: Look for Harris' work in training camp to be monitored closely and he could see limited action in preseason too. In the past, coach Lovie Smith has kept him off artificial surfaces in preseason and the Bears open the preseason at Buffalo, which uses an AstroPlay field at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bears are counting on big things from Harris after paying him a $6.67 million roster bonus and they're going to preserve him for when it matters most. The next big payoff in Harris' deal is a $2.5 million roster bonus due June 1, 2010. The club would like his balky left knee to be no worse for the wear then. We wrote it here a while back, don't look for players with questionable injury concerns to land rich deals from the Bears again, not after Angelo's comments about closely scrutinizing medical records when it comes to draft picks.


2. ESPN's Sal Paolontonio
reports that the lawyer for wide receiver Plaxico Burress is maneuvering behind the scenes in efforts to reach a plea deal before Burress' next court appearance in New York on June 15.

"Three teams are believed to be serious enough about considering Burress for the 2009 season that they have contacted his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to inquire about his legal status: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Chicago Bears and the New York Jets."

OUR SPIN: The Jets and Bucs both had interest in landing quarterback Jay Cutler. Could the Bears beat them to the quarterback and the wide receiver? Obviously, Burress' legal situation needs to be ironed out before anyone is going to offer him a contract, but that process could happen sooner rather than later. He's still likely to face a suspension from commissioner Roger Goodell. How many games Burress would get is anyone's guess. Ex-Bear Tank Johnson received an eight-game suspension following the 2006 season after the raid on his Gurnee home. There was a provision in that suspension that allowed Johnson to be re-instated after six games. Remember, though, Johnson had a previous weapons arrest during his Bears' career. He was busted outside a downtown nightclub for having a weapon in his vehicle.


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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Garrett Wolfe category.

Gaines Adams is the previous category.

Glenn Earl is the next category.

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