Headed in Different Directions

Lake Forest – Although wide receiver Airese Currie suffered another setback, Bernard Berrian and Eddie Berlin could both be in uniform against the Buccaneers.

Currie tweaked his right hamstring during practice Thursday and is now doubtful for Sunday's game. He pulled the other hamstring earlier this month in his first practice with the team after returning from off-season foot surgery.

When Currie went down, the Bears turned to a familiar face. They signed Berlin to a two-year deal. The five-year veteran would have likely made the team at the start of the season if not for a torn groin muscle suffered in the preseason opener.

Berlin said it took him more than two months to feel healthy enough to play again. He's been working in Des Moines over the past month to get back in shape and became eligible for the Bears to re-sign this week following his injury settlement.

"I've been playing a lot of Ping-Pong, but just doing a lot of strength stuff in the beginning, trying to strengthen the groin muscle I tore," Berlin said. "Lately last month I've been running some routes and just doing a lot of agility stuff and trying to get a little conditioning back. I see I've still got a little ways to go right now, but I'm getting there."

The five-foot-11, 195-pounder stayed after practice Friday to work with Rex Grossman.

"I think there's a good chance I'll be active," Berlin said. "If I play or not, who knows. But they told me just to be ready and it's going to kind of be a game-time decision."

Berlin knows the offense from his time with the team in mini-camp and training camp. He's also familiar with current staring quarterback Kyle Orton.

"Actually quite a bit because at the time he was running with the twos and threes and that's where I was getting the majority of reps," Berlin said. "So we got a lot of work in really."

The Bears see Berlin strengthening two phases of the game.

"When he was in here in camp he showed that he has a good knack for getting open and making plays and real good as an inside slot receiver," said offensive coordinator Ron Turner. "I think he'll be able to give us some good depth."

Special teams coach Dave Toub added, "He's an experienced special teams player. At Tennessee he was one of their best guys and we like what he did during training camp."

In his four seasons with the Titans, Berlin played in 57 games, catching 24 passes for 370 yards with two touchdowns. He also has 42 career special teams tackles while averaging 19.5 yards on 30 kickoff returns and 3.7 yards on seven punt returns.

Berrian practiced for the second straight day and has been upgraded to probable. He's missed the last four games following thumb surgery.

"Bernard Berrian is making a lot of progress," Smith said. "He was able to get quite a bit accomplished today."

The Bears will continue to evaluate Berrian and Berlin over the weekend and make their decision on Sunday.

"We need a receiver up so we have a couple options really with Bernard and Eddie and we'll take that right up until (game-time)," Smith said.


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