Adams out as Bears begin roster changes

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Adams out as Bears begin roster changes

When Lovie Smith met with the media early in the weekends NFL Scouting Combine, he offered high praise for a number of his defensive linemen. Julius Peppers, obvioiusly. Defensive tackles Henry Melton and Stephen Paea. And Amobi Okoye, with whom the Bears had contract talks late last season and likely will have re-signed before the outset of free agency.

Not included in Smiths discussion were tackle Anthony Adams and end Corey Wootton. The former was inactive for much of the season either for reasons of injury or performance decline. The latter suffered through a second season of disappointment due to nagging injuries.

Omission from those kinds of even casual run-throughs is never a good thing and Adams became an early offseason roster move with his release after five seasons in Chicago, according to multiple sources.

The veteran nose tackle was signed as a free agent from the San Francisco 49ers in 2007 and was a 16-game starter in 2010, grading out behind only Peppers among defensive linemen, according to coaches.

He was re-signed to a two-year deal once the lockout lifted last summer but was sidelined with a calf injury for most of preseason and eventually was replaced as a starter by Matt Toeaina.

The Bears are looking hard for a pass rusher at defensive end, putting Woottons future sharply in question, with Chauncey Davis showing some flash late in the season and Israel Idonije a steady veteran who is a free agent but wants to remain a Bear.

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Both teams are on track to be drafting in the top five, and the inevitable “the loser is the winner” talk has made its rounds, meaning that a defeat moves the loser higher in the draft order. The reality is that neither team will tank the game for draft position.

But the chances of two woeful teams playing well are slim. The 49ers won in Week 1 and then have lost 10 straight. The Bears are trying to avoid losing four straight for the first time under John Fox.

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Quarterback Colin Kaepernick burst upon the NFL scene in 2012 with a blowout of the Bears in his first start. He has regained his starting job in San Francisco and is still one of the prototypical mobile quarterbacks.

But the 49ers are the NFL’s worst defense in both points and yardage allowed, and they are the worst rushing defense in the league. Expect the Bears to try exploiting that and give quarterback Matt Barkley a balanced run-pass game plan.

Prediction: Bears 24, 49ers 20

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Kyle Fuller was one of the seeming fixtures in the Bears’ defense as it transitioned from the 4-3 of old to the 3-4 of Vic Fangio. And he may be again, the Bears hope very soon, as he has begun practicing after months on injured reserve following knee surgery in August.

The Bears could place Fuller on the active roster as late as Saturday after he practiced all three days this week. “He made it three days in practice, no setbacks,” said coach John Fox. “He seems to be adapting pretty well. He has another practice [Saturday] and we don’t have to make a decision until 3 p.m. because of where he is on the roster. We’ll evaluate that after tomorrow.”

Were Fuller to return — restoring one projected 2016 starter to a defense that has been forced to field five different starting secondaries in the span of 11 games — he may be phased back in with a managed number of snaps, as other certain other players returning from injury have been.

But getting Fuller back projects to be an instant upgrade for a defensive backfield among the NFL’s worst at producing takeaways.

“We all play different positions so we’re kind of used to it, people moving in and out over the year,” said Bryce Callahan, who was initially ticketed for nickel duty as the No. 3 cornerback this season but has been pressed into service starting at cornerback in four games.

“It’s always good to get someone like Kyle back.”

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The Bears would need to weigh what workload Fuller could handle vs. roster needs based on only having 46 players active on game day.

“You’re always a little bit cautious because it does affect your roster,” Fox said. “But if you feel like he makes you better, that’s a move you make. Now we’re just working through him medically, durability-wise, and how much he can play.”

Jay Cutler (shoulder) was officially declared out and is headed for surgery on Saturday, ultimately to injured reserve.

Other availability questions include receiver Eddie Royal (toe), guard Josh Sitton (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos (ankle), all questionable. Linebacker Willie Young (knee) did not practice but linebacker Leonard Floyd was able to practice on a limited basis although his status in the concussion protocol will not be known until closer to game time.