They could have had him last season but opted instead to stay with the defensive ends they had on the roster at the time. Now the Bears have moved to shore up their depth chart on the edges, signing former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Austen Lane to a one-year contract.
Lane, 6-6, 265 pounds, played for Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker when Tucker was in that job for Jacksonville. Lane was one of four defensive linemen drafted by the Jaguars in 2010, taken in the fifth round out of Murray State. He started nine games as a rookie in place of veteran Aaron Kampman, missed all but six games in 2011 with a shoulder injury, and suffered a sprained foot in Jacksonville’s 2012 training camp, eventually playing in 11 games, and starting seven.
Jacksonville released him last June and he remained on the street until November when the Detroit Lions signed him. Lane played two games, and then was cut again.
For his career, Lane has 17 starts in 30 games, with 64 tackles, three sacks, four tackles for losses and one forced fumble.
Lane’s signing follows a pattern of GM Phil Emery, adding more than training-camp bodies to the offseason roster. Last offseason was marked by veteran additions like defensive linemen Jamaal Anderson, Sedrick Ellis and end Turk McBride, safety Tom Zbikowski, offensive linemen Eben Britton and Jonathan Scott, and others.
The approach doesn’t always work, as when an Ellis abruptly retires or a McBride suffers a season-ending injury.
But the upside is finding veterans with some quality miles still on the tires (Britton). Or Lane?