Stretched thin at linebacker, the Chicago Bears have decided to add some depth to its practice squad roster.
The team announced the signing of outside linebacker Howard Jones to its practice squad. In a corresponding move to make room for Jones, the Bears waived defensive lineman Mike Purcell. The Bears picked up Purcell on September 19 during a busy transaction period in which they released Tanner Gentry (and later re-signed him to the practice squad), lost practice squad tackle Dieugot Joseph to the Baltimore Ravens, and promoted safety DeAndre Houston-Carson to the active roster.
As for Jones, he was an undrafted free agent out of Shepherd University – a Division II school located in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The Pittsburgh Steelers plucked him after the 2014 NFL Draft and released him in September 2015. He would then latch on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, picking up five sacks in 12 games (five starts) at defensive end. Jones played eight more games for the Bucs in 2016, but was placed on injured reserve in November 2016 after suffering an ACL injury. He was medically cleared in late August and is viewed as an edge rushing specialist.
The Bears haven’t provided much of a pass rush this season, picking up nine sacks – which is tied for the sixth fewest in football. Only the New York Giants, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have recorded fewer sacks than the Bears. And while the Giants, Titans, Dolphins, and Bucs are all teams that started the year with postseason aspirations, this isn’t where the Bears want to be as far as this particular leaderboard is concerned.
Roster Update: We have signed LB Howard Jones to our practice squad and waived DL Mike Purcell. pic.twitter.com/Ouuk6ljJbU
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 6, 2017