Bears workout five veteran linebackers

Chicago GM Phil Emery has been busy this week scouring free agency for linebacker depth. He has worked out five veterans this week, and it's only Wednesday.

We reported earlier today that the Chicago Bears worked out former Washington Redskins linebacker Rocky McIntosh. The six-year veteran would provide needed depth at the position and could challenge Nick Roach for the starting spot on the strong side.

Yet that's not the only linebacker GM Phil Emery is looking at. According to ESPNChicago.com, the club also worked out Bryan Kehl and Zac Diles, as well as Gerris Wilkinson and Geno Hayes, per the Chicago Tribune.

Last season, the Bears had zero depth at linebacker. Had one of the starters missed significant time, the team would have had to fall back on Patrick Trahan or Dom DeCicco, neither of whom has any significant NFL experience. Emery isn't willing to take that risk and is exploring a number of different options.

Kehl is a former fourth-round draft pick of the New York Giants, where he played from 2008-2010. He played for the St. Louis Rams the past two years. The four-year veteran has started four games in his career, totaling 110 tackles, one sack and one interception.

Diles is a five-year veteran that was drafted in the seventh round by the Houston Texans in 2007. He played there for four years, starting 30 games at both strong side and weak side linebacker. He was cut by three teams last season, the last being the Indianapolis Colts. For his career, Diles has 226 tackles, one sack, one interception and three forced fumbles.

Wilkinson, a former third-round draft pick of the Giants, played five seasons in New York. He was signed as a free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars last offseason but was cut on August 29. He did not find work the remainder of 2011. He has started seven games in his career, picking up 68 tackles and two forced fumbles.

Hayes is a four-year veteran that was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He started 42 games for the Bucs the past three seasons combined, mostly at weak side linebacker. For his career, Hayes has 257 tackles, 7.0 sacks, four interceptions and four forced fumbles.

The only recent visitor with a chance of starting for the Bears is McIntosh, and possibly Hayes. The other three are being looked at purely for their experience and would likely only contribute on special teams.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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