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NIU star Jordan Lynch signs with Bears, will play running back

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch throws pass against Utah State during first half PoinsettiBowl NCAA college football game Thursday Dec.

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch throws a pass against Utah State during the first half of the Poinsettia Bowl NCAA college football game Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

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Updated: June 12, 2014 7:06AM

Former Northern Illinois star and Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch signed a free-agent deal with the Bears on Saturday night. His father, Jim, said Lynch will report to rookie minicamp this week as a running back.

Jim said his son had interest from other teams but “wanted to stay close to home.”

Bears general manager Phil Emery wouldn’t confirm the move, but he said Lynch “had a really good visit” at the team’s local pro day last month.

Lynch — whom Emery called a “really fine” rusher — could be used in different packages, and perhaps even under center.

“He’s got a great set of eyes,” Emery said. “He’s very instinctive, especially for a quarterback, between the tackles.

“He just knows where to find the soft spots and take that little sidestep and keep grinding forward and keep moving forward while he’s making his moves.

“He’s got really good contact balance. He doesn’t go down easy. I like all those things.”

Ka’Deem to carry

Ka’Deem Carey didn’t know the Bears were drafting him in the fourth round until he saw the TV. The Arizona running back’s phone, for some reason, didn’t ring.

“My name popped up,” the two-time All-American said. “My head just went 100 miles per hour.”

Not that he was ­surprised. The Bears sent offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, running backs coach Skip Peete and senior national scout Mark Sadowski to Tucson eight days earlier for a private workout.

“He’s short, but he’s strong,” coach Marc Trestman said. “He just fits. He can run inside and outside. He can catch the ball. He’s got good hands.

“He’s going to be a very willing, tough, physical blocker.”

The Bears were looking for “a three-down back” to play behind Matt Forte, Trestman said, and feel “very good” about Carey.

“Felt like we got us a quality running back at the right time in the draft,” Emery said.

The Bears were comfortable with Carey’s history. He faced misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges after an altercation with his girlfriend, but charges were dropped.

Carey said Saturday he would “never ever do anything to harm people.”

“I’m a love-ful cat,” he said.

This and that

Punter Pat O’Donnell — whom the Bears chose in the sixth round (191 overall) — transferred to Miami from Cincinnati for his senior season to be closer to his father, Terry, who was being treated for cancer.

He is in remission.

“When they called my name on TV,” O’Donnell said, “he started crying and gave me a hug. So it was definitely a memorable moment to share that with him.”

Bears special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis worked out O’Donnell before making him the only punter drafted. The 6-4, 220-pounder had three tackles and a forced fumble last season.

“It’s exactly what I’m there for,” he said. “To be another defensive player down there to make a tackle.”

◆ Boise State tackle Charles Leno Jr., whom the Bears chose in the seventh round (No. 246 overall), will fight for a backup job at left tackle, Emery said.


Twitter: @patrickfinley

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