Bears Cut Ties with Mitchell

Two years ago, Qasim Mitchell played the most important position on the offensive line. However, a lack of overall development led to him being one of two players the team released on Wednesday.

With the first training camp practice a week away, in some way the Bears did Mitchell and linebacker Stephen Larsen, who was also cut, a favor by giving them a chance to land with another team before the start of camp. The fact that both played in NFL Europe and carry the roster exemption from the league will help their cause.

After rising from a practice squad product to a starter, the Bears rewarded Mitchell with a three-year contract that ran through 2008 and included a $1.5 million signing bonus. He started 16 of 23 games played during three seasons with Chicago. His most memorable season came when he started 14 games at left tackle, while appearing in 16 games played in 2004. The team surrendered a franchise worst 66 sacks and offensive coordinator Terry Shea was fired after just one season in Chicago.

As John Tait moved from right to left tackle and Fred Miller signed as a free agent in 2005, Mitchell saw little action. He played in just four games last year.

In an attempt to resurrect his career, Mitchell agreed to play in NFL Europe with the Frankfurt Galaxy. He started three of four games at guard before suffering a knee injury that ended his season. He had rehabbed to the point where he would have been cleared to practice when training camp opened.

The starting offensive line returns intact. The addition of sixth round pick Tyler Green as well as several undrafted free agents will push for roster spots, but with veteran reserves John St. Clair, Steve Edwards and Lennie Friedman all with starting experience it will be a heated competition in Bourbonnais.

Larsen signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of San Diego State in 2005. He played in a reserve role for the Rhein Fire.

CAMP CALENDAR: Players report to Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais on Wednesday, July 26, and the first practice is at noon, Thursday, July 27. Camp closes after a 10 a.m. practice on Wednesday, Aug. 16. The Bears have a 7 p.m. practice at Soldier Field on Wednesday, Aug. 9; and 7 p.m. practices under the lights at ONU's Turner Field on Friday, Aug. 4, Tuesday, Aug. 8, and Sunday, Aug. 13.

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