Tuesday, Abney found out that he was going to be cut by Baltimore. By Wednesday afternoon, things started looking up again, as the former Kentucky wide receiver and punt return specialist was snapped up from the waiver wire by the Bears. By Thursday morning he was winging his way to St. Louis, to take part in the team’s second preseason game against the Rams Friday night. And Abney couldn’t be happier.
“I talked to the [Bears director of pro personnel] player development guy, Bobby DePaul,” said Abney, “and I asked him ‘do I have a chance to get in this game?’ and he said it was up to the head coach, Lovie Smith. He will determine when I get to St. Louis if I can put that uniform on, and maybe catch some punts and kicks.”
Although it’s unlikely Abney will see action tonight against the Rams, his eight returns for touchdowns (six punt, two kickoff) tied a NCAA record. He will be considered for the punt return opening currently held by Bernard Berrian. The Bears averaged 5.5 yards on four punt returns in the preseason opener against the Dolphins.
The Bears averaged 11.1 yards on punt returns last year, but the release of R.W. McQuarters leaves a hole Abney is confident he can fill.
“I have heard that it has been kind of suspect. They played on Monday night, and nothing really came out,” said Abney. “Not really any real big names up in Chicago right now with the return game, though. That’s probably why they decided to pick me up.”
The Wisconsin native has connections to the organization.
“Harold Jackson was my receivers coach at UK for a couple of years under Coach Morris. And he is actually good friends with coach Lovie Smith,” Abney said. “I remember that my agent last year thought that the Bears might take me because of what they had been hearing of Coach Jackson’s comments about me to the Bears.”
Abney also participated in a high school football camp run by linebackers coach Bob Babich.
Abney spent his rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens on Injured reserve because of a shoulder injury. The problem has healed about as much as it ever will, so Abney is looking for some contact to test it early in camp.
“It’s doing a lot better,” said the receiver. “It’ll never be back to what it was, of course, but that is part of football. When you play football, you understand that is going to happen. It’s doing real well, though. It’s ready to get hit, let me tell you that!”