Chicago Bears 2013 Position Battles: The Specialists

USA TODAY Sports

Our off season series profiling each position battle on the Chicago Bears continues on. We finished up the offense a couple days ago, so before hitting the defense, let's take a look at the special teamers.

The Chicago Bears have a new special teams coach in town, but that's all that will be different around Halas Hall. Joe DeCamillis may bring some fresh ideas to the team, but the top specialists will remain unchanged for the Bears.

Roster Locks

Kicker Robbie Gould and long snapper Patrick Mannelly are 100% locks, and punter Adam Podlesh is a 99% lock.

Podlesh had a few bad punts last year, that's a fact, but his overall numbers were fine. He placed 34 punts inside the 20, which was 4th best in the league. In 2011, the season most Bears fans would say was much better from Podlesh, he only placed 21 inside the 20.

His net average was only 19th best, but he's a directional punter. It's not his job to boom punts down the field and out-kick his coverage. The Bears only allowed 84 punt return yards last year, best in the league by far, partly thanks to his leg, and partly thanks to some good coverage. He also had 25 punts fair caught in 2012, which was 5th best in the league.

Think about that 84 yards stat for a second. The opposition averaged 1.04 yards per return against the Bears. Don't be the guy that remembers a few shanks, and assume he sucks now.

The only way I see the Bears parting ways with Podlesh (remember the 1% chance) is over money, but since they aren't in a cap crunch, he's sticking around.

A good bet to make it

I think l could have put Devin Hester in the Roster Lock category and felt alright, but until we see how he's running, I'll just call him a good bet. Saving on his cap hit isn't a big concern at this time, so unless someone really, really, really out performs him, he'll be back in 2013.

Plus I think somehow, someway, Marc Trestman will get him on the field on offense.

On the Bubble

Tress Way will have to really outshine Podlesh to make an impression, and even that may not be enough. Podlesh is an established NFL performer, so the odds on the Bears rolling the dice on a rookie are pretty low. Who would you trust with his back against the endline in the 4th quarter of a tight game?

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