- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub said he was pleased with how Adam Podlesh punted the ball during Thursday's practice, but acknowledged the veteran "is in kind of a slump right now."
Through nine games, Podlesh is 30th in the NFL with an average of 41.7 yards per kick and No. 21 with a net average of 38.4. He had three punts of under-40 yards in the club's 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans, although one of the kicks was downed at the Texans' 3-yard line.
The Bears worked out four free agent punters (Spencer Lanning, Ryan Quigley, Chas Henry and Ryan Tydlacka) on Wednesday but did not sign any of them to a contract.
"When you are bringing guys in there is a reason you are bringing guys in," Toub said. "You want to know for the emergency list, No. 1, but like I said this is a performance-based business and everybody knows you need to perform at a high level. And if you don't, you have to as a coach and as a team explore other options that are out there. You have to know who is available if we do make a change."
Podlesh signed a five-year, $10 million contract with the Bears before the 2011 season after spending his first four years in the league in Jacksonville. Podlesh got off to a good start his first season in Chicago when he set a Bears' franchise record with a net punting average of 40.4 yards, but he suffered a hip flexor injury early in the 2012 preseason that caused him to miss several weeks leading up the regular season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Bears carried a second punter, rookie Quigley, on the 53-man roster in Week 1, but Podlesh returned in time to punt against the Colts and Quigley was waived the following day.
"Podlesh is fine. He understands this a performance-based business that we are in, and we brought guys in just to see where they are at right now," Toub said. "Because a lot of those guys haven't punted in possibly 10 weeks, so we brought a bunch of young players in to see if they had been staying in shape. It could be a motivational thing, but we needed to survey the scene to see who is out there.
"There is no injury. I think he is over what we had. As far as his performance, he is kind of in a slump right now. We're trying to battle through it, and he had a real good practice today, so we are encouraged."
Podlesh declined to comment about his situation prior to Thursday's practice.