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Mare signed to replace Gould

Veteran long-snapper Patrick Mannelly discovered the silver lining amid a string of Bears roster moves Tuesday.

“I’m not the oldest guy on the Bears anymore,” Mannelly wrote on his Twitter page. “Man it feels good to be 37 years young.”

At least someone on the Bears’ special teams unit feels good.

The Bears signed 39-year-old kicker Olindo Mare to replace Robbie Gould, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve because of a strained left calf. Also lost for the remainder of the season were special teams contributors Craig Steltz (chest) and Sherrick McManis (knee), who joined Gould on injured reserve.

All three players were injured Sunday as the Bears (8-5) lost to the Minnesota Vikings for their fourth defeat in the past five games. Gould injured his calf during pregame warmups and relinquished kickoff duties to punter Adam Podlesh.

By signing Mare, the Bears opted for one of the most experienced kickers available on the free-agent market. Mare has 15 seasons of NFL experience and is No. 15 on the all-time list with 350 field goals, two shy of next closest kicker Eddie Murray.

Other free-agent kickers who were available included Neil Rackers and Billy Cundiff. Of the group, Mare (81.2 percent) boasted a greater career field-goal accuracy rate than Rackers (80.0 percent) and Cundiff (75.5 percent).

Mare most recently kicked for the Carolina Panthers in 2011, when he connected on 78.6 percent of his field-goal attempts with a season long of 45 yards. He spent 10 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, one with the New Orleans Saints and three with the Seattle Seahawks before joining the Panthers.

It’s unlikely that Mare will feature the same range as Gould, who was 2 for 2 from 50-plus yards this season. Gould was 21 for 25 overall, including a 41-yard field goal as time expired in Week 8 to give the Bears a 23-22 win against Carolina.

To fill the void created by injuries to Steltz and McManis, the Bears promoted practice-squad receiver Joe Anderson to the 53-man roster and signed linebacker Jerry Franklin off of the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.

The Bears also re-signed guard Chris Riley to the practice squad and released veteran offensive lineman Andre Gurode, whom they signed late last month.

Gould, Steltz and McManis are under contract through the end of next season.


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