The Chicago Bears like Dom DeCicco. After playing safety collegiately at Pittsburgh, the Bears snatched him up as an undrafted free agent following the 2011 draft. The club liked DeCicco's athleticism but thought his skill set would be a better fit at linebacker, specifically middle linebacker.
Despite learning a brand new position, one he'd d never played before, DeCicco showed enough in training camp last year to make the final 53-man roster. He stayed there all season and finished the season second on the team in special teams tackles.
He was invited back to camp this year and was making strides at middle linebacker. His play on the practice fields gave many hope he could eventually replace Brian Urlacher, after the future Hall of Famer calls it a career. Remember, Urlacher was also a safety in college, so the belief that DeCicco might be able to follow the same path was picking up steam this preseason.
DeCicco then suffered a groin injury in Chicago's second preseason contest. With considerable recovery time in his future, the Bears could not justify keeping him on the active roster and were forced to cut him before the start of this season.
LB Dom DeCicco
"It was tough the last couple of weeks while I was here," DeCicco said today. "I was hurt and I felt like I wasn't moving like I could have. I felt like I wasn't putting what I wanted to put on tape."
DeCicco spent his time off rehabbing the injury. He said he reached 100 percent about a month ago, at which time he started working out for other NFL teams.
"The first month or two wasn't too bad, but then when I got healthy and everything I started doing the workouts and it started picking up more and more," he said. "It started to get to a little more stressful."
He worked out for the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, yet no team offered him a contract. When the Bears contacted him this week about returning to the team, he jumped at the opportunity.
"It's a blessing to come back to an organization I loved and to know everybody, it's awesome. I'm comfortable here. I know the system."
The Bears like DeCicco so much, they signed him to a two-year deal yesterday, which shows the confidence the coaching staff has in him as a long-term contributor.
It was reported yesterday that Urlacher will be out 2-4 weeks with a hamstring injury. DeCicco isn't in Chicago to be Urlacher's immediate replacement. His contributions this season will come on special teams. Going forward, though, DeCicco feels he can eventually develop into a starter on defense.
"This is the first defense, and the only defense, that I've ever played linebacker in," said DeCicco. "And I really like the Mike (middle linebacker) position and what they ask of the Mike. I feel like I fit it pretty good … the Tampa-2 coverage aspect of it. They like the linebackers to be more athletic, and I feel like I fit that."
For now, DeCicco is just happy to be back in a familiar, comfortable situation.
"I was always hoping. I was always hoping I'd end up back here," he said. "But at times I thought I wouldn't. I'm really happy and blessed to be back here."
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.