So long, snapper: Pat Mannelly out for season
By Mark Potash firstname.lastname@example.org November 21, 2011 10:27PM
Pat Mannelly lays on the field injured during the game against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. | Scott Boehm~Getty Images
Updated: December 23, 2011 8:20AM
Long snapper Pat Mannelly was typically overshadowed Monday.
While Jay Cutler’s broken thumb dominated coach Lovie Smith’s news conference at Halas Hall, Mannelly was put on injured reserve and is out for the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the Bears’ 31-20 victory Sunday over the Chargers at Soldier Field.
Fullback Tyler Clutts replaced Mannelly and snapped on three extra points and a fake punt without any problems. But the Bears want a specialist to do the job full-time. The Bears are bringing in Jake Laptad, a rookie defensive end from Kansas who long-snapped for them in the preseason and could sign a contract Tuesday.
‘‘[Clutts] finished yesterday and did a good job, but we’ll also look outside,’’ Smith said. ‘‘If Tyler is our long snapper, we’ll feel good with him. But we have other options. We’re going to look at those.’’
Mannelly, a sixth-round draft pick from Duke in 1998, has played in a franchise-record 215 games and missed only three in his 14-year career. He appeared to suffer the injury when he was pushed back and tripped over Edwin Williams’ leg on Robbie Gould’s extra point after Marion Barber’s touchdown gave the Bears a 10-3 lead in the second quarter.
Easier row to hoe?
As unfortunate as Cutler’s injury is, the timing could’ve been worse.
Five of the six teams the Bears will face with Caleb Hanie at quarterback are ranked in the lower half of the NFL in total defense: the Raiders (24th), Chiefs (23rd), Broncos (17th), Packers (30th) and Vikings (20th).
And while the Seahawks are 11th in total defense, they’re also 28th in total offense (26th in scoring), so the Bears’ defense figures to carry much of the load against Seattle on Dec. 18 at Soldier Field.
With Hanie replacing Cutler at quarterback, the Bears are 41/2-point underdogs against the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday. That’s fine with them.
‘‘We do play good in that role,’’ linebacker Brian Urlacher said. ‘‘I don’t know if it’s just trying to prove people wrong or whatever, but we do play better. We’ve been that way since we’ve been here because we’re always underdogs, it seems like. One year we were 13-3, and we were still underdogs. That’s just the way it goes for us, but for some reason we do well in that role.’’
It’s probably because they’re so good at convincing themselves they’re the underdogs. When the Bears were 13-3 in 2006, they were favored in 16 of their 19 games — underdogs only at the Giants (+1), at the Patriots (+41/2) and in the Super Bowl against the Colts (+61/2).
Pressure on Bears’ ‘D’
Urlacher challenged the defense to step up without Cutler. But that probably would’ve been the challenge even with Cutler. While the Bears held the Chargers to 332 yards (65 yards below their season average) and had three takeaways, they also allowed 6.9 yards per play — their third-highest average per play this season.
‘‘Every bad play we have, I’m disappointed in it,’’ Smith said. ‘‘I like the way our defense finished [against the Chargers]. There are some plays we’d like to have back, that we’ll correct. But does the defense have to step up? We all need to step up our game. And we will.’’
Rookie Addison waived
The Cutler injury was even worse news for rookie defensive end Mario Addison. With Cutler out and rookie Nathan Enderle behind Hanie on the depth chart, the Bears will add a veteran quarterback. To make room, Addison, an undrafted free agent from Troy, was waived.
Addison drew raves in training camp and made the 53-man roster. But he was active for five games and played in only two during the regular season.