Receiver Merritt's another look

LAKE FOREST _ Wideout Ahmad Merritt wound up back with the Bears Monday when they signed him back to their practice squad along with two other players who had previously been cut.

The fact Merritt even lost a spot on the 53-man roster to D'Wayne Bates seemed surprising because of his special teams abilities and Bates' lack thereof. However, it was Bates' versatility within the Bears' offense that kept him on the team.

``We really liked Ahmad,'' Bears coach Dick Jauron said. ``He did a nice job for us, and we appreciated his toughness, his speed and his play-making ability.

``But D'Wayne can play all of the (wide receiver) positions, which becomes critical when the numbers get so low. You can plug him in anywhere and he knows what to do.''

Receivers coach Todd Haley liked the fact Bates has been around the team two full seasons already and has played in 12 games.

``The experience factor is probably the biggest thing to me -- having a guy that's been in there,'' he said.

One other major factor was Bates stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 215 pounds while Merritt is 5-10, 188 pounds.

``He's got more size,. He's a bigger receiver,'' Jauron added.

Bates, who has six career receptions, sat anxiously by the phone worrying on Saturday night and Sunday. The Bears never called to ask him to bring in the play book.

``I'm glad the day is over, it's behind me,'' he said. ``Today is a new day. I'm a Chicago Bear and I'm looking forward to the season and looking forward to playing Baltimore Sunday.''

Bates believes his chance to impress will come sometime this year. ``It's the last year of the contract, and I want to do real well for future aspirations,'' he said.

Guard LeShane Grice and linebacker Devin Lemons, who were both let go with Merritt on Sunday, were signed Monday to the practice squad.

The Bears also signed safety Than Merrill off waivers. The former Yale player had been cut by Tampa Bay. To make room on the roster for the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Merrill they cut cornerback Todd McMillon.

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