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Roach filling in nicely for Urlacher

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 7, 2012 – 8:24 pm

Nick Roach insists that moving from his strongside position to play middle linebacker in place of Brian Urlacher the past week in practice hasn’t required much of an adjustment.

“It isn’t too much different because a lot of times we’re just running through or gap or taking on blockers or dropping,” Roach said. “All the linebacker movements aren’t all that much different.

“There’s just a lot more vocal communication. We all communicate as a defense to each other, but now you have to start off a lot of the checks and getting people lined up.”

After missing four straight practices with knee soreness, Urlacher has been excused from workouts the last two days due to an undisclosed personal reason. Roach started three games at middle linebacker in 2009 after Urlacher suffered a season-ending injury and is gaining more valuable experience at the position in camp.

“We like our depth,” said coach Lovie Smith. “Nick Roach is our backup ‘Mike’ linebacker. He had an outstanding day [Monday]. Nick’s played good, winning football around here for us.”

Last season Roach started 15 of 16 games played at strongside linebacker, recording 61 tackles and six tackles-for-loss. He isn’t concerned that filling in for Urlacher will keep him from improving at his regular position.

“I don’t think so,” Roach said. “When you’re at middle, you’re thinking about your position but you know where everybody else is anyway, and even playing strongside I have to know where Brian and [weakside linebacker] Lance [Briggs] are to adjust my own fits. I don’t think it will hurt too much.”

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Mannelly eager to return from injury

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 7, 2012 – 7:52 pm

Back for a Bears-record 15th season, long-snapper Patrick Mannelly is looking forward to playing in Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Broncos after missing the final six games last season with a torn ACL.

“I think anybody who has an ACL injury, the first time they come back going full speed, they’re always a little nervous,” Mannelly said. “But I’m more excited just to prove to myself that with the hard work I put into it I’m ready to go.”

Since being selected by the Bears in the sixth round of the 1998 draft out of Duke, Mannelly has appeared in a club-record 215 games. As soon as he plays in the regular season, he will break the mark he shares with linebackers Doug Buffone and Bill George for most years of service with the team.

Mannelly had only missed three games in his NFL career—one in 2001 and two in 2002—prior to last season when he was injured in a loss to the San Diego Chargers.

“It was just a freak thing and my foot got caught in the turf,” Mannelly said. “My leg planted behind me and I got hit in the front and the ligament gave.”

The 37-year-old worked extremely hard during the offseason rehabbing the injury.

“Fortunately it was just the ACL,” Mannelly said. “A lot of times when you [rupture] your ACL you’ll tear the meniscus and everything else. I didn’t do any of that, so I didn’t have to worry about that. Bobby Slater, our director of rehab here, he and I worked our [butts] off. My mentality was ‘I’m not done yet’ and I worked as hard as I could not to be done.”

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Jennings excited about facing Manning

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 7, 2012 – 7:36 pm

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is eager to watch future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning make his Denver Broncos debut in Thursday night’s preseason opener at Soldier Field.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings back to the game,” said Jennings, who spent his first four NFL seasons as one of Manning’s teammates with the Indianapolis Colts from 2006-09.

“When I first got in the league I thought I wasn’t that good when I was there. He just makes you feel that way. He had a lot of guys around him: Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Brandon Stokley.

“I came in there and it just kind of made me feel smaller than what I was, but I just had to realize I was going against a lot of [future] Hall of Famers and Pro Bowlers.”

Jennings has been excelling in training camp while working with the No. 1 defense. Although starters don’t typically play too much in the first preseason game, the seventh-year pro is hoping to get some quality reps against Manning, the only four-time MVP in NFL history.

“Hopefully he’ll play a good amount with the starters and our ones in there because we want to get this thing rolling,” Jennings said. “It’s a good test to go against Peyton Manning and a high-powered offense just to see where we’re at as a defense.”

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Bears sign Walker, waive Hendrickson

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 7, 2012 – 7:25 pm

The Bears on Tuesday signed defensive end Derek Walker to a one-year contract and waived undrafted rookie offensive tackle Tyler Hendrickson.

Walker appeared in four games with the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League this spring, recording five tackles, three tackles-for-loss, two sacks, four quarterback hurries, one interception and one blocked kick.

The 6-4, 270-pounder originally entered the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks in 2009 as an undrafted free agent from the University of Illinois.

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