Packers 3-4 defense difficult for Bears to digest

Front office chess: Kicking gamble

Robbie Gould's calf injury forced the Bears to make an uncomfortable decision because there was a chance he could have played again this year.

Gould probably would have been kept on the 53-man roster if the Bears did not have so many other injuries. There's a good chance at least five of the seven inactive roster spots Sunday will be claimed by injured players — Earl Bennett, Tim Jennings, Shea McClellin, Henry Melton and Brian Urlacher. Michael Bush, Matt Toeaina or Geno Hayes, all of whom are injured, could join them. Another spot is likely to be used on quarterback Josh McCown.

Almost every healthy body will be active.

So the Bears decided to put Gould on injured reserve and invited five kickers, including veterans Olindo Mare, Neil Rackers and Billy Cundiff, to a Tuesday audition that lasted the better part of the morning.

First, the five were asked to kickoff. Bears special teams coaches Dave Toub and Kevin O'Dea wanted to see them handle every type of kickoff, and eventually gave them about a dozen test kickoffs.

After kickoff tests, they kicked close to 40 field goals apiece. They were tested on eight of them. The 39-year-old Mare was the only one who made every field goal, and he was signed later that day.

There will be a difference between Mare and Gould. Mare's kickoffs might be a bit shorter. Coach Lovie Smith won't have quite as much confidence in him on long field goals.

But the last time the Bears had a kicker audition, things worked out just fine. It was just over seven years ago, and the winner of the audition was a 23-year-old kid kicker named Robbie Gould.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter@danpompei

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