Filling in for Patrick Mannelly is a snap for Bears’ fullback Tyler Clutts
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org November 20, 2011 8:46PM
Updated: November 20, 2011 8:46PM
Bears fullback Tyler Clutts, who played in the CFL, the Arena League and the United Football League before finally making it to the NFL last year, said he’s willing to do anything he can to stay here. But when special teams coach Dave Toub told him he’s the Bears’ long-snapper after Patrick Mannelly suffered an apparent knee injury in the second quarter, Clutts was taken aback.
‘‘I was kind of like, ‘Wait, wait, wait … what?,’’ Clutts said. ‘‘It kind of caught me by surprise. I just tried to not stress out too much and not let the nerves get the best of me and be cool and collected. [But] I had a good group around me. I was as confident as I could be.’’
Clutts took a few lumps, but made it through three PATs and a punt snap without incident in the Bears’ 31-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Soldier Field. It’s a contribution that can’t be overlooked. Last year the Chargers lost Pro Bowl long-snapper David Binn in the season opener and Mike Scifres had four punts blocked.
Clutts was a long-snapper in high school and a backup long-snapper in college. But he had never long-snapped in a game before Sunday. He said he took about 10 warmup snaps before snapping on a PAT after Jay Cutler’s four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis. He said Mannelly — a renowned long-snapping guru — helped coach him after he returned from getting treatment.
‘‘I got blown back pretty big on the [PATs].’’ Clutt said. ‘‘The big guys inside were trying to blow me up and I asked him how to correct that. And he gave me some tips that helped.’’
Mannelly, a 14-year veteran who has played in a franchise record 215 games with the Bears, said he was OK as he walked out of the locker room, though he was limping noticeably.
But Clutts said he could handle the job if asked to do it full time. ‘‘Absolutely,’’ he said.