Deep Pockets

LAKE FOREST, IL - The Chicago Bears signed guard Rex Tucker to a new seven-year contract worth $21 million Monday, extending Tucker through the 2008 season. Defensive tackle Alfonso Boone to a new five-year contract worth just over $4 million, which keeps him with the team through 2006.

Tucker, entering his fourth year as a pro and second as the Bears' starter at left guard, was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He was tendered at $1.227 million for this year.

Tucker earned the starting job in training camp prior to the start of the 2001 season and was part of an offensive line which led the NFL in sacks allowed, surrendering a league-low 17 sacks, more than 21 below the NFL average (38.6). Tucker, named an alternate to the Pro Bowl following the Bears' 13-3 season, was the only new starter on the 2001 offensive line.

Originally drafted by the Bears in the third round in 1999, the 6-5, 315-pounder out of Texas A&M played in six games in 2000 and two games with one start as a rookie, lining up at both tackle and guard.

The Bears starting defensive tackles Ted Washington and Keith Traylor are both coming off great years, but are more toward the end of their careers then the beginning. Last season Washington made the Pro Bowl at age 33 and enters his 12th year in the league at age 34, while Traylor will turn 33 before the start of his 11th NFL season.

Boone, a member of the Bears' defensive tackle rotation, played in 11 of 12 games for the Bears in 2001, recording 11 tackles with two sacks and one fumble recovery. The 6-4, 325-pounder out of Mt. San Antonio Junior College will be asked to play a more significant role with the defense as Washington and Traylor age and at some point within the next few seasons should become a starter.

Boone made his NFL debut as a reserve at Cincinnati last season, after being inactive for Games 1-4. Originally drafted with the second-to-last pick in 2000 (one pick before teammate Mike Green was selected by Chicago and named "Mr. Irrelevant") by the Detroit Lions, Boone spent most of the season on the Lions' practice squad before signing with the Bears on Nov. 11, 2000, and was inactive for the final five games of the season.

SICK BAY: Brian Urlacher and Bryan Robinson both missed practice again on Monday with flu-like symptoms.

However, head coach Dick Jauron believes the two should be back for Tuesday's practice.

COMING ALONG: Ted Washington and Marcus Robinson will both likely play Friday against the Jaguars in Champaign. Both veterans have been recovering from injuries and have missed the Bears first two preseason games.

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