Wade Gets the Boot

Lake Forest - One too many muffed punts finally cost Bobby Wade his spot on the roster. The Bears waived the three-year veteran on Tuesday.

Despite ranking sixth in the NFL in punt return average, at 9.7 yards per attempt, Bobby Wade had ball security issues all season. He found himself fumbling more than any non-quarterback in the league. Of his 52 total touches, 10 hit the ground at some point.

The Bears style of football is conducive to close games and turning the ball over is not an option. The team replaced Wade following a fumble against Tampa Bay. Rashied Davis handled the duties for the rest of the game, but when he failed to handle two punts a week later against Green Bay, Wade returned to the role.

The final straw came when Wade fielded two punts inside the 10 yard line against Pittsburgh, including another muffed attempt.

Wade tied for the team lead in receptions in 2004, but never factored in the passing game this season. He caught 10 passes for 80 yards.

The 2003 fifth round pick started 15 of 40 games played with Chicago. He finished with 64 receptions for 698 yards. His only score came earlier this season on a 73-yard punt return in Week 2 against Detroit.

It's unclear who will handle punt return duties. While the Bears have several options on the roster, each has a weakness.

Bernard Berrian had the responsibility to start he season. He's an upright runner, who is coming off thumb surgery that still requires him to wear extra protection.

Nathan Vasher provides great ability once he has the ball in hands, but the team is worried about him securing the ball. It also welcomes a starting cornerback to take hits and the secondary is already thin because of injury.

Much like Vasher, Rashied Davis can make people miss when he has the ball. However, he already lost the confidence of the coaches because he has trouble fielding punts.

Eddie Berlin has limited experience returning punts with the Titans. He's sure handed, but doesn't offer much in the way of a threat.

Craig Bragg is UCLA's all-time punt return leader. Even still, evaluating him off the practice squad could more pressure on a rookie than the Bears would like at the position.

At this point the team may settle for someone that can simply come up with the ball.


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