Bears Sign Seven to Practice Squad

The Chicago Bears had to cut a few awfully good football players in order to get down to the league limit of 53 on Saturday, but they were able to bring back seven of them Sunday. After passing through the waiver process, the majority of the '09 practice squad has now been established.

Johan Asiata

With the Midway Monsters somewhat unexpectedly saying goodbye to veteran guard Dan Buenning and keeping rookie tackle Lance Louis instead, the offensive line is currently a little thin at the guard position. General manager Jerry Angelo said around draft time that he now prefers tackles that can also play guard as opposed to guards that can also play center, plus he already has one of those in starter-now-reserve Josh Beekman.

An undrafted rookie free agent from UNLV, Asiata – a 6-4, 310-pound New Zealand native – is a pure guard with potential but needs some work.

Ervin Baldwin

To the disappointment of his legion of fans on the BearReport.com message boards, Baldwin might have been one of coach Lovie Smith's toughest cuts after a seven-tackle, two-sack performance in the preseason finale against Cleveland. But with only three defensive ends presently on the 53-man roster and Mark Anderson still looking to recapture the magic he had as a rookie in 2006, he could get a promotion to the big club just as he did last year.

A seventh-round draft pick in 2008 from Michigan State, the 6-2, 260-pounder is still only 23 years old and fits in well as a right end in the 4-3.

Brett Basanez

A growing trend around the NFL is keeping just two quarterbacks on the active roster, although that's a luxury only the teams with Pro Bowl-caliber signal callers that don't get hurt very often can afford. The Monsters of the Midway are now one of those teams after trading for Jay Cutler in the offseason, as he has started 37 consecutive games since taking over in Denver, plus Caleb Hanie has played well enough in two years worth of exhibition games to be the primary backup.

An undrafted free agent from Northwestern in 2006, Basanez posted a 138.0 passer rating Thursday against the Browns but is still haunted by an ugly three-interception outing in the preseason opener at Buffalo.

Joe Clermond

Like Baldwin, Clermond was able to see a lot of practice reps both in training camp and the preseason, and he'll be able to get plenty more during the regular season since Anderson is the only reserve on the 53-man roster behind starters Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye. While he's likely trailing Baldwin on the depth chart right now since he's not a former draft pick, he's the kind of lighter-and-quicker D-end the Bears like to feature on the right side.

An undrafted free agent from Pittsburgh in 2008, the 6-2, 249-pounder may have been better served going elsewhere since there would have to be an injury epidemic for him to get a call to the big club.

Donovan Raiola

A late arrival in training camp after being waived by the Cardinals, Raiola is the younger brother of Lions center Dominic Raiola – he's clearly not as talented as his older sibling since the Bears are his fourth organization since coming into the league in 2006. But with Buenning a cut-down casualty and Tyler Reed on injured reserve, Beekman is the only other player in the locker room other than starter Olin Kreutz capable of playing center.

An undrafted free agent in 2006 from Wisconsin, where he was a college teammate of Buenning, the 6-2, 293-pounder is a native of Honolulu just like Kreutz.

Will Ta'ufo'ou

For one reason or another, there is a segment of Bears fans that is never quite satisfied with starting fullback Jason McKie, even though he's a quality player on the field and a stand-up guy in the locker room – plus he's only in the huddle 15-20 snaps per game in Ron Turner's offense. Ta'ufo'ou is a raw player with some ability, and he even scored Chicago's first touchdown of the preseason by reeling in a 14-yarder from Hanie against the Bills.

An undrafted rookie free agent from California, the 5-11, 253-pounder could get the call if injury strikes because McKie is the only fullback on the active roster heading into the regular season.

Woodny Turenne

If there were any justice in the world of professional football, fourth-round draft pick D.J. Moore would have been put on waivers while Turenne was kept on the 53-man roster as the sixth and final cornerback. But draft status means an awful lot in this league, especially to an organization like the Bears, so Moore gets a spot on the big club even though he was thoroughly outplayed by Turenne, who seems to be better suited for Chicago's version of the Cover 2.

An undrafted rookie free agent from Louisville, the 6-1, 182-pounder has the size necessary to provide run support and also made his share of plays in coverage during his stay in Bourbonnais.

Note: The Bears still have one spot on the eight-man practice squad available.


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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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