- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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ESPNChicago.com continues its Bears draft preview series with a look at the kickers.
The Chicago Bears have grown accustomed to having one of the best groups of kicking specialists in the league.
2013 figures to be no different.
Former All-Pro Robbie Gould is recovering from a season-ending hamstring injury but expects to be 100 percent long before the Bears report to training camp on July 25. Before he got hurt, Gould connected on 21-of-25 field goals last year and led the Bears with 96 points. The eight-year veteran shows no signs of slowing down and figures to be a candidate for a new contract before his contract expires at the end of next season.
Punter Adam Podlesh got off to slow start in 2012 after he suffered a preseason hip flexor injury, but he eventually rebounded and finished the year with an average of 42.0 yards per punt and a net average of 39.4 yards. Don’t be surprised if Podlesh has his best year in a Bears’ uniform this season under the direction of new special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. Podlesh and DeCamillis worked together while the two were members of the Jacksonville Jaguars organization, and DeCamillis was so fond of the punter, he helped convince the Jags to spend a fourth-round pick on Podlesh coming out of the University of Maryland in the 2007 NFL Draft.
Rounding out the trio of Bears’ specialist is long snapper Patrick Mannelly, arguably the best and most consistent at his position for over a decade.
Analysis: The Bears are in the market for camp legs. Last year’s second-team punter, Ryan Quigley, is off the market after he signed a free agent deal with the New York Jets. Another former training camp punter, Spencer Lanning, is expected to compete for the Cleveland Browns starting job. The Bears signed kicker Austin Signor on Friday after he participated in the three-day minicamp, but the team usually carries at least two camp legs in training camp. Expect another kicker or punter to be signed following the draft.