Return Game Gets a New Look

LAKE FOREST, IL – In a move that has been in the making since Jerry Angelo took over the team Gyln Milburn was released Wednesday. The decision was made in order to sign fullback Stanley Pritchett.

Milburn, the Bears all-time leader in career kick return yardage, was in his fourth season in Chicago and ninth in the league, playing his first three seasons in Denver and two more in Detroit before joining the Bears in a trade with the Green Bay Packers. He represented Chicago in the Pro Bowl following the 1999 season. The nine-year pro out of Stanford was a leader on and off the field, which made the move a difficult one for Dick Jauron.

"We made a decision yesterday to release Glyn Milburn," he said. "That was a tough one for the organization. Glyn had been such a big part of us here, certainly since I got here, and had done an outstanding job both on and off the field in terms of his leadership and his preparation and his."

However, the 5-8, 176 pounder struggled to break any long returns during the 2000 season. His longest kick return was 38 yards, while his long punt return was 25. Milburn hasn't had any big-plays this season either. In fact, he made two mistakes against the Cardinals. Fumbling the second half kickoff and having another ricochet off his facemask. Despite his recent struggles Jauron said this wasn't a rash decision.

"It wasn't a situation that was based on one day, obviously," Jauron said. "It was over time and really, again, it was more a function of strengthening the overall team.

"The decision really was just based on the fact that we felt we could make ourselves a stronger football team. We picked up a fullback, Stanley Pritchett, who's been a quality player in the National Football League and we think he'll strengthen us at a position that we need strengthening in."

Pritchett, originally drafted by Miami in the fourth round of the 1996 draft, played for four seasons in Miami before signing with Philadelphia as an unrestricted free agent last season. As an Eagle, he set a career high with 225 yards rushing on 58 carries in 16 games with two starts. He also caught 25 balls for 193 yards. The 6-1, 240 pounder out of South Carolina was released by the Eagles prior to the start of the 2001 season. While in Miami, Pritchett appeared in 52 games with 40 starts as lead blocker for Karim Abdul-Jabbar who gained 1,116 yards in 1996, the second-highest total among rookies and third-best ever by a Dolphin.

"And, we also felt like we had the players who could step in and fill in the void that Glyn will leave," Jauron said. "That's the reason why that was made."

R.W. McQuarters and Leon Johnson will field punts depending on how long the defense has been on the field. On shorter drivers Jauron said McQuarters would be the return man, but on a prolonged drive Johnson would have the duties. The candidates to replace Milburn on kickoff returns are Johnson, Autry Denson and Jerry Azumah.

"So we have some players we felt were ready to step up and fill in that role," Jauron said. "And also they're multi-dimensional players for us in terms of special teams, in terms of coverage teams, also, and not just in the return aspect of it. Glyn did a wonderful job for us, what we asked him to do, but it was pretty much one-dimensional and we feel like we'll get a little more from these guys. They have big shoes to fill. But we believe they'll step up."

Another factor in the decision to release Milburn is the pending suspension of fullback Daimon Shelton for failing a random drug test. However, Shelton's appealing the suspension and has until October 30 to file his case. It is unlikely that the suspension will be overturned, which means Shelton would miss four games most likely in November.

"We're not ignoring that situation, but we're hoping that Daimon's appeal turns out in our favor," Jauron said. "We just thought Stanley Pritchett was someone that we could add to our roster right now. Not disregarding that possibility, it made sense for us to get that thing done."

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