LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Eric Weems arrived in Chicago with the reputation as a Pro Bowl-caliber special-teamer who the Bears could use in a variety of ways.
An all-around special teams performer, the Bears plan to pair Weems with Devin Hester to give the club a dynamic 1-2 punch on kickoff returns, while at the same time utilizing Weems' ability to be a sound tackler on the punt and kickoff teams. Weems had 41 regular season special teams tackles for Atlanta from 2008-2011. A former undrafted free agent out of Bethune-Cookman, Weems made the Pro Bowl in 2010 when he combined to run for 1,330 regular season return yards (punt and kickoff return) and two touchdowns. In the playoffs, Weems had a record 102-yard kickoff return in the divisional round against the Green Bay Packers.
However, Weems has proven to be a dependable target in the passing game so far in the preseason, catching two balls for 38 yards in the Bears' 33-31 victory over Washington. Weems caught 24 career passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns during his time in Atlanta.
"I take a lot of pride in everything I do," Weems said on Tuesday. "That's my DNA that I'm putting on film, so I go out and try to practice hard. When I practice hard, I play hard. So everything shows up on film.
"That's something I'd love to do and am passionate about playing. But I'm just coachable, so wherever the coaches need me that's where I'm going to be. I get a sense I'm going to get some opportunities. And when opportunities come knocking, I'm going to be there."
Weems made the most of his opportunities versus the Redskins when he connected with Jason Campbell for a 33-yard completion in the second quarter which turned out to be the Bears' third longest play from scrimmage that evening. But interestingly enough, Weems is still not completely recovered from an ankle injury he suffered early in camp, meaning Bears fans have yet to see the best of what the speedster has to offer.
"It was hard for me coming back and being able to play because before that I was missing a little time here and there," Weems said. "But it felt good to get out there on it. But it's tough. Even in the game I couldn't shift a gear like I wanted to and stop on a dime like I normally do because of that injury.
"I'm feeling pretty good. I'll be good to go. I'll be 100 percent by Week 1."