TIREY: Ex-'Cat Abney gets chance with Da Bears

Tuesday, Derek Abney found out that he was going to be cut by the Baltimore Ravens. 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 Chicago Bears. By Thursday morning he was winging his way to St. Louis, to take part in the Bears' exhibition game against the Rams Friday night. And Abney couldn't be happier.

Abney was released by the Ravens at 4pm Tuesday afternoon. The waiver lasts for 24 hours, and just before 4pm on Wednesday, his agent called with the good news. Now, off to St. Louis, where he just hopes to show what he can do in the game. "I talked to the [Bears] player development guy, Bob 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."

Why the Bears? Was there some sort of tie between Derek and the team? Maybe so. "Apparently, there are some connections that I didn't know about," said the punt return TD record holder. "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. I remember that my agents 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. There's one connection. Another connection would be the linebackers coach for the Bears. He was the head coach of a camp that I did in high school. And finally, the Rex Grossman thing, him being there [with the Bears] and at Florida. I had some of my better games against Florida."

The chances of Abney getting on the roster with the Bears look pretty decent right now. Abney has been researching a bit himself. And the return game could use his help. "I have heard that it has been kind of suspect. They played on Monday night, and nothing really came out," said Abney. "They have a DB that does some of their returns. But I think they are trying to get him off of that, so he can just concentrate on defense. They have a little bit of a situation at receiver. I think they are a little thin, which helps me. 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 shoulder injury he suffered while with the Ravens 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!"

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