From FG return TDs to onside returns, how Bears specialists benefited

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — The only person bearing down on Deonte Thompson was his former teammate.

As he fielded Phil Dawson’s short 63-yard field goal attempt to end the first half Saturday, Aaron Brewer, the Bears’ old long snapper, was sprinting in, unblocked.

Thompson juked at the 6, Brewer reached out, and the Bears’ receiver escaped the arm tackle. Thompson broke down the left sideline, where the Bears had a wall of players waiting — cornerback Marcus Cooper and safety Adrian Amos each made solid blocks.

Thompson wasn’t touched again for 77 yards — and that was on a weak tackle attempt by Dawson — before finishing his 109-yard return in the opposite end zone.

He joked later he was tired; he hadn’t run that far in a while.

“It wasn’t anything we were surprised for,” said linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who lined up 20 yards in front of Thompson. “When it goes out and works, it’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s what it’s supposed to be.’”

Not everything worked so well for the Bears’ special teams in Saturday night’s 24-23 win against the Cardinals. But the game had amazing value in that regard — the Bears’ specialists went through game situations they might see only a few times all year.

Or, in the case of Thompson’s return, once a decade.

“We watch it on film,” said placekicker Roberto Aguayo, who missed a 49-yard field goal attempt, low and far right. “You don’t think it’s going to happen to you, because it’s a once-in-a-five-, 10-year play. But they’re gonna happen. Good thing for it to happen in the preseason — to get that work in and to scheme it up better.”

Incumbent kicker Connor Barth had hit a 42-yard field goal, made two extra points and kicked off once. Aguayo, signed a week earlier, kicked three touchbacks and made an extra point but missed the field goal try.

“I jumped on it a little bit,” he said. “Obviously you want to make them, but I got a little bit too quick and didn’t hit it well.”

The Bears saw two onside, kicks, too — and recovered only one successfully.

Recevier Daniel Braverman slid and muffed a squibber at the 35-yard line, giving the Cardinals the ball back with 1:20 to play. After they scored and missed the two-point conversion with nine seconds left, Braverman recovered the onside kick to ice the game.

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley


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