Friedman Signs, Currie Placed on IR

LAKE FOREST – The Bears added depth on the offensive line Tuesday by signing Lennie Friedman to a one-year deal.

The seven-year veteran spent the last two seasons with the Washington Redskins and the first 10 games of this year before being waived Nov. 23. Originally drafted by the Broncos in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft out of Duke, the six-foot-3, 283-pounder can play both guard and center. He has 32 career starts on his resume.

To make room for Friedman on the active roster, the Bears placed wide receiver Airese Currie on injured reserve.

The fifth round pick was plagued by injury. He missed the bulk of his rookie season following off-season surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. He pulled both hamstrings trying to get back on the field.

There was some debate whether Bobby Wade would remain on the 53-man roster, but Currie's injury may have kept him around. He has nine fumbles, which is the most of any non-quarterback.

Following a three-fumble performance against the 49ers, Wade remained the punt returner. However, after a fumble vs. Tampa Bay he was pulled in favor of Rashied Davis.

Although head coach Lovie Smith didn't make a firm decision about the punt return job, he didn't give Wade a ringing endorsement.

"I like the way Rashied came into the game and gave us a lift there," Smith said. "Bobby has struggled, he has put the ball on the ground a few times. We can't have that. All I'll say right now is that if you're in a position you have to perform at a certain level or we will make changes."

The Bears currently have five receivers on the roster. Wade has been a non-factor in the passing game, catching just eight balls for 72 yards.

Bernard Berrian and Eddie Berlin could become more involved in the offense. Berrian was active against Tampa for the first time since having thumb surgery, but failed to get on the field.

"He's the fastest receiver that we have right now, we do need to get him into the mix and we will," Smith said.

Running Wild
Kyle Orton, who isn't usually much of a running threat, bolted from the pocket three times for 19 yards against the Bucs, including a diving 10-yard pickup on a third-and-7 play.

"I don't really have any running skills," he said with a smile. "But when they've got all those guys dropping into man coverage, sometimes you get lucky and get through the line when there is a lot of room to run."

Orton's previous 16 rushes had netted 17 yards.

Clean Laundry
The Bears committed a season low four penalties against the Buccaneers. They have been called for 81 penalties for 668 yards on the season, but in the last three games they've only committed 18 for 144 yards.

"There are some penalties that you get from just hard physical play, but the pre-snap penalties you can avoid them just from being a little bit more disciplined and knowing that they can really hurt your team," Smith said.

One More Move
The Bears also released WR Eric Hill from the practice squad. An undrafted free agent who spent the 2004 season on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad, Hill had been signed to Chicago's practice squad on Nov. 9.

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