Chicago Bears: Chad Rempel

Bears sign two, waive two

August, 18, 2014
The Chicago Bears announced they signed return man Darius Reynaud and cornerback Peyton Thompson on Monday to one-year contracts in addition to waiving long snapper Chad Rempel and punter Tress Way.

Terms of the deals weren’t disclosed.

Reynaud played in 48 games for the Minnesota Vikings (2008-09), New York Giants (2010), Tennessee Titans (2012-13) and the New York Jets (2013), returning 102 punts for 985 yards and two touchdowns and 104 kickoffs for 2,347 yards and a touchdown. Reynaud led the NFL in total return yardage (1,650 total; 1,240 on kick returns, and 410 on punts) and tied for the league lead in total return TDs (3) and punt return TDs (2)

Thompson, meanwhile, came into the league in 2012 as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons. Thompson has spent time on the practice squads of the Falcons and the Redskins.

Rempel joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent after spending 10 years in the Canadian Football League.

Way spent each of the last two preseasons with the Chicago Bears, and apparently lost out in a competition with sixth-round pick Patrick O'Donnell for the starting punter’s job.

DeCamillis expects special teams upgrade

August, 11, 2014
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Aside from generating additional revenue for the league, preseason football exists to allow teams to work through their issues before games count for real in September.

While the Chicago Bears displayed a multitude of positive signs on both offense and defense in their preseason opener, the third phase, special teams, self-destructed on nearly every level imaginable -- blocked field goal attempt, muffed punt return, penalties, average punts, and a coverage breakdown that led to a Philadelphia Eagles 102-yard kickoff return touchdown.

Time is still on the Bears' side, but special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis feels a sense of urgency to turn things around in a hurry, starting with Thursday night's second preseason contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I took away from Friday night that we didn't play very well," DeCamillis said Monday. "We had a lot of miscues. What's disappointing is practice had been going well. We felt like it was a good training camp up to [that] point.

"We have to starting finding out the guys [who] are going to be playing for us on Sundays. There's no question about that. It's still an evaluation, but I think one of the things that wasn't as good at the start of [last] year was we didn't start out great. I think they came on after the fifth game and really started playing well. We need to see the guys that are going to play on Sundays. That's our goal moving forward, especially in that third preseason game. We have to see those guys and they have to start playing together as a unit."

DeCamillis cited the windy conditions at Soldier Field last week as a possible reason why punters Tress Way (37.5 yards per punt/37.5 net average) and Pat O'Donnell (43.5 yards per punt/33.5 net average) had only average performances against Philadelphia, although both players appeared to strike the ball well during Monday's practice at Ward Field.

One encouraging aspect to take away from the Eagles' game is that long snappers Brandon Hartson and Chad Rempel were on the mark with their snaps. No decision has been made regarding which of the two the Bears will keep on the 53-man roster, but each offers something unique. Hartson is probably the better pure snapper, but Rempel is extremely athletic and seems to be capable of running downfield and covering a punt if necessary.

As for the return game, Eric Weems is in the drivers' seat, especially since speedster Chris Williams suffered a hamstring injury versus the Eagles. Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall did spend time Monday at practice fielding punts during special teams drills, but don't look for Marshall to be the new special teams secret weapon.

"Brandon Marshall sometimes likes to be in drills he shouldn't be in," DeCamillis said with a smile. "That's above my pay grade."

Punter O'Donnell emerges as fan favorite

July, 27, 2014
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- NFL punters are hardly ever the center of attention; except when things go horribly wrong in a game, like a bad kick or botched snap.

But Bears' rookie punter Pat O'Donnell proved to be the exception to that rule on Sunday.

A large part of the estimated 9,500 fans in attendance on Sunday spent the entire portion of the special teams drills loudly cheering for O'Donnell and chanting "Mega-Punt” every time he punted the ball.

O'Donnell's highly-touted right leg did not disappoint. Aside from one or two mishits, the majority of the rookie's punts were high and deep. One kick registered an unofficial hang time of 5.1 seconds and appeared to travel well over 50 yards.

"I didn't know what the crowd was saying,” O'Donnell said after practice. "I was just trying to keep focused. It's definitely a good feeling because the punter usually doesn't get a lot of attention. But it's the nature of the business. I just need to do my thing and hopefully flip the field when I can.”

Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis added: "That's a first for me [hearing fans chant for a punter]. I was thinking you have to be kidding me over there. It was ridiculous. Let's keep the kid's feet on the ground.”

However, expectations are high for O'Donnell, after the Bears spent a sixth-round pick on the 6-foot-4, 220 pound punter from Miami following a record-setting year when he averaged a school single-season best 47.1 yards per punt and had 23 kicks sail 50-plus yards.

Generally speaking, when a team drafts a punter, it becomes his job to lose. But former undrafted free agent Tress Way stepped up his performance following the Bears selection of O'Donnell, and actually outkicked the rookie in the offseason program, paving the way for a genuine camp competition.

But Sunday clearly belonged to O'Donnell.

"I thought [O'Donnell] did some good things today,” DeCamillis said. "But we need to just keep working and hopefully he continues stacking good days on top of good days.”

Punter is not the only specialist position up for grabs. The retirement of decorated veteran Patrick Mannelly left a serious void at long snapper, one the Bears are currently trying to fill with either Chad Rempel or Brandon Hartson.

In the Mannelly era, the Bears experienced a bad snap maybe once every five or six years. This summer, there have been multiple long snapping miscues over the span of just three days since camp opened on Friday.

"I wouldn't say we are concerned," DeCamillis said. "We need to work through the process and find out who our guy is going to be. Hopefully he's on this team right now. He may not be. We'll have to see. But I wouldn't say we're concerned. I've been in this position before with young guys. You just need to work through the process."

DeCamillis: Mannelly's future unknown

May, 17, 2014
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Bears special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said on Saturday that no decision has been reached regarding the future of veteran free-agent long snapper Patrick Mannelly, the longest tenured player in team history and perennial special-teams captain.

Mannelly told reporters prior to being honored as the Bears’ 2013 Ed Block Courage Award recipient last month that he remained undecided about returning to the Bears for a franchise record 17th season after undergoing offseason hip surgery in January.

“I’ve been in contact with Pat and there is no pressure one way or the other,” DeCamillis said. “We just have to let it play out. He’s had a great career, and I hope he continues his great career, but we just need to let it play out and see how it goes.

“I don’t [have a sense which way he’s leaning]. I just hope it’s the best situation for him. That’s really what I hope because he’s such a great person and such a great guy. Winning the Ed Block Courage Award is a big deal. Couldn’t be a better guy to win it, I can tell you that.”

The Bears had three long snappers participate in rookie minicamp: Chad Rempel, Brandon Hartson and Craig Montgomery (tryout).

LS Mannelly undecided about future

April, 8, 2014
DES PLAINES, Ill. -- If Bears free-agent long snapper Patrick Mannelly does not return to Chicago for a franchise record 17th season, the team’s all-time leader in games played (245) would probably lean toward retirement.

That’s the scenario Mannelly laid out to reporters before being honored as the Bears’ 2013 Ed Block Courage Award winner at a luncheon held at Maryville Academy in suburban Des Plaines, Ill., an event attended by team matriarch Virginia McCaskey.

“It would be tough to put on another helmet for another team,” the Mannelly, 38, said.

The only member of the 1998 draft class that is still playing with their original team, Mannelly is almost three months into a four-to-six month rehabilitation process following offseason hip surgery.

Mannelly is scheduled to fly to California Tuesday night to continue his rehab work at EXOS in San Diego -- he is no longer under contract with the Bears and cannot use the facilities at Halas Hall -- but the veteran long snapper is undecided about his future.

"As athletes you always think you can play forever and I’ve been lucky to play for a long time," Mannelly said. "But I really want to listen to my body and see what happens. You always want to play forever. Your heart wants to play forever. Your mind wants to play forever. But we'll see.

"I would feel bad if I didn’t give it everything I had and [slacked] in the offseason. I’m not going to do that. I truly want to find out. I want to put myself in a position where I get sore again and feel hurt every day and see how much I enjoy it and how I bounce back the next morning.”

The Bears are expected to offer Mannelly a one-year contract if he decides to continue for another season, although a drop-dead date has not been set for Mannelly to make a final decision.

“We haven’t really set anything in stone for that,” Mannelly said. “I have some dates in my mind that I want to set to reach certain plateaus and goals to get ready for the season. I’ll leave those dates to me but we will see.”

If Mannelly’s recovery goes according to plan, he could theoretically return to the field when the Bears hold their organized team activities in late May and early June. But the Bears had to protect themselves at the position and agreed to terms on a three-year deal with former CFL long snapper Chad Rempel on Monday.

“It’s a smart move,” Mannelly said. “Phil Emery should do that. I’ll be 39 this year and I don’t know if I’m going to be back. They need to take care of their roster and that’s the most important thing.”

The Ed Block Courage Award is given out annually to one player on all 32 NFL teams who best exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage and serves as an inspiration in the locker room. Teammates vote for the award. Ed Block Courage Award winners symbolize professionalism, great strength and dedication, and are considered role models in the community.

Past Bears recipients of the Ed Block Courage Award include: Nick Roach (2012), Brian Urlacher (2011), Anthony Adams (2010), Israel Idonije (2009) and Charles Tillman (2008).

The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation promotes the prevention of child abuse by raising awareness and assisting agencies that provide for the care and treatment of abused children.