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Eric Weems shows why Bears signed him

Eric Weems racked up 123 all-purpose yards his Bears preseasdebut Saturday all first half.  |  Nam Y. Huh~AP

Eric Weems racked up 123 all-purpose yards in his Bears preseason debut Saturday, all in the first half. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

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Updated: September 23, 2012 6:23AM

In his Bears debut, receiver Eric Weems racked up 123 all-purpose yards.

All of it came in one half on a not-yet-healed ankle, and it doesn’t include a 20-yard punt return negated by an illegal block by running back Kahlil Bell.

On a night highlighted by the starting offense, Weems made a strong impression on the Bears, a message that needed to be delivered considering he missed most of training camp with an injured left ankle.

“I don’t have that burst yet,” Weems said, “but it felt great to show the guys and the coaching staff what they brought me in to do. It felt good to actually get out there and make some plays and help this team score.”

That was general manager Phil Emery’s thinking when the Bears signed Weems to a three-year, $4.2 million contract in the offseason. Weems, who went to the Pro Bowl as a special-teamer after the 2010 season, is another versatile athlete, the sort coach Lovie Smith embraces.

While Devin Hester is still the lead returner, Weems is No. 2 on kickoffs and No. 2 on punts. He also replaced Corey Graham as a gunner.

Bears special-teams coordinator Dave Toub said Weems stood out in the victory Saturday against the Washington Redskins.

“He’s still not even 100 percent, and he showed us a lot,” Toub said. “He’s going to be a four-phase player.”

With the regular season more than two weeks away, the Bears might be somewhat conservative so Weems can rest his ankle, but Weems showed why he was signed.

He returned one kickoff 48 yards and was one tackler away from going the distance. He also had the nice punt return that was wiped out by Bell’s penalty.

Just as important, Weems hauled in a 33-yard pass, showing excellent hands in catching a well-placed ball from Jason Campbell.

“I just let my performance show. I’m not a big talker about it,” Weems said of his receiving skills. “But I know what I’m capable of, and I just wait on my opportunities.”

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