Friday, June 14, 2024

Chicago Bears Just Gave Their Special Teams A Big Jolt

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For all the talk about upgrading at quarterback, wide receiver, and pass rusher over the past few months, it’s been easy to overlook how committed the Chicago Bears have been to improving their special teams. It started with punter Tory Taylor in the 4th round of the draft. He’s already shown glimpses of the elite player he was at Iowa. That should help the Bears with field position. Now, it seems they’ve shifted their focus to the return game. Velus Jones might be the early favorite for the kick returner job, but he won’t be alone.

Chicago brought back veteran special teams ace DeAndre Carter on a one-year deal. This marks the second time he’s joining the franchise, having played for them in 2020. An undrafted free agent in 2018, he has carved out a long career as a return man and wide receiver. He’s averaged 22.4 yards per kick return and 9.8 yards per punt return for his career. He also had a respectable 538 yards receiving with three touchdowns in 2021, playing for the Los Angeles Chargers under wide receivers coach Chris Beatty. The same man who now works for the Bears.

The Chicago Bears are expanding their competition.

It seems like every position on the roster has a battle unfolding ahead of training camp. Both returns jobs aren’t exempt from that. The Bears remain confident in Jones’ ability, but his track record of inconsistency meant the job wouldn’t be handed to him. Besides, he’s never been good on punt returns. Chicago has no definitive option in that regard, which is why they’ve been experimenting with #9 overall pick Rome Odunze at that spot. Carter should give them a little more flexibility.

What makes it more interesting is Carter doesn’t have a great history of other aspects of special teams. He’s never been known for productivity on coverage units. Most of his value comes through the return game. That means if he wants to outpace Jones for one of those coveted roster spots, he will have to make some magic happen during the preseason. He has some good fortune in that regard, as the Chicago Bears will play four games instead of three this year. Every extra opportunity will matter.

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6 COMMENTS

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mbearest
Jun 14, 2024 10:11 am

JESUS (forgive me), Deandre Carter is 31 years old (he was 25 when he stated also) and bounced around to 6 different teams in 6 years! He’s had 250 combined returns in 6 years and that touchdown in the video is his LONE touchdown…3 years ago. Oooh, BIG JOLT! I know as well as anyone that Jones is on extremely thin ice but if my memory serves me right, his main issue is catching punts which is a totally different trajectory and a much more difficult situation. Not grandstanding for Jones, but Carter’s kickoff return average in every one of… Read more »

PoochPest
PoochPest
Jun 13, 2024 7:20 pm

Unfortunately for Velus Jones, he has spent the last two years buried under the Luke Getsy coach debacle (like many others). While he was drafted by the Bears as a raw, developmental project, he never developed as a receiver, and rather than being coached, was benched after bad mistakes. Not all draft picks CAN be developed, and certainly, most developments never become great, but the Bears proved the incompetence of their coaching staff, by developing no one substantially, and when Ryan Poles realized that his project draft picks were being buried and ignored while TGena seethed, he finally had to… Read more »

Dr. Steven Sallie
Dr. Steven Sallie
Jun 13, 2024 4:36 pm

This signing is the jolt felt all the way around to the House of Velus Jones. It’s time to catch and hold on to the ball. Now can you do that?

KennyRay
KennyRay
Jun 13, 2024 3:22 pm

Solid signing for the Bears. This definitely spells trouble for Velus

Tred
Tred
Jun 13, 2024 1:15 pm

Yawn. Maybe with the new kickoff rule special teams will contribute 17.5% of value for teams instead of 16.5%…

Let me know when they go back to the 70’s rulebook. At least special teams were interesting.

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