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Chicago Bears Training Camp Preview: The Specialists

We're talking an in depth look at every position group on the Chicago Bears before they open training camp next week. Today we'll hit on the specialists that call the 3rd phase home, kicker, punter and long snapper.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In the past, the Chicago Bears have always had a camp leg or 2 come to Bourbonnais to prevent their punter and kicker from overworking their leg. So far the Bears have yet to add any "competition" at those positions, but there is one spot remaining on the 90 man roster if they change their minds.

Roster locks

Robbie Gould had the worst statistical season of his 10 year career, but he's healthy after missing the last 4 games of 2014 with a quad injury. The fact that the Bears released undrafted rookie free agent kicker Jeremiah Detmer after June's veteran minicamp, is a good sign they feel Gould is 100% and ready to get back to being one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL.

Second year punter Pat O'Donnell showed flashes of the booming leg that garnered him the "Megapunt" nickname last offseason, but he has to become more consistent.

A good bet to make it

The Bears signed long snapper Thomas Gafford, an eight year veteran, but he will have some competition in camp from...

On the bubble

... undrafted rookie free agent Rick Lovato. If these two wage an even battle, I would guess the Bears go with experience over youth. Gafford does make about $400,000 more than the rookie, but he also has $230,000 guaranteed.

EDIT: With the recent signing of former Arena League return specialist A.J. Cruz, the Bears may hold a roster spot for that position. If so, Cruz will battle with Marc Mariani for that spot.

What are your thoughts on the Bears' specialists?