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Saturday Spotlight: Patrick Scales

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we’ll spotlight a Bears player in a weekly column. This week, we’ll take an in-depth look at Long Snapper Patrick Scales.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Name: Patrick Scales

Position: Long Snapper

Number: 48

Age: 33

Time with Bears: 7th Season

The Past:

“If you’re going to make a team, and you’re going to give it a shot, you’ve got to go balls to the wall.

June 20, 2014. Chicago Bears fans, hardened from the constant departures of roster mainstays, such as “Spice” Adams and Brad Maynard, and (forced) retirements of Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, watched as yet another fan-favorite said goodbye to Halas Hall.

Patrick Mannelly, the Bears’ long-snapper since 1998, was retiring from the league.

To this day, Mannelly holds the record for the most games played in franchise history, despite playing the most non-sexy position in football. After all, you won’t see a long-snapper on ESPN Top 10. Mannelly did it in a sexy way though, recorded with 2,282 plays without a botched snap. It’s heavy when a player who was around for multiple 4-12 teams, as well as multiple 13-3 teams, says goodbye.

The next year, in 2014-15, the Bears decided a rental a long-snapper was the solution, and brought in journeyman long-snapper Jeremy Cain. That idea went right out the door with Phil Emery, and then-new GM Ryan Pace set out to find a long-term solution at long snapper.

Midway through the 2015-16 season, Pace found a guy bouncing around practice-squads who had potential to seal up the spot, and brought him in. This might just be the guy.

Scales played as well as you could ask a long-snapper to, and earned himself a second contract with the team. Before the 2017 season, Scales became an exclusive-rights free agent, and the Bears nabbed him for another one-year deal.

Unfortunately, the injury bug teethed a chunk out, and Scales tore his ACL in the 2017 preseason.

The Bears went back to long-snapper Blockbuster, and rented Andrew DePaola off waivers to fill the role in 2017. Bears fans remember how place-kicking went in 2017. With apologies to Robbie Gould, Bears fans remember how Cody Parkey was supposed to be a luxury after that year.

In 2018, Ryan Pace decided to bring Scales back, with hopes to establish a special-teams 3-man unit of LS-P-K to lock down for the long-term. With Pat O’Donnell locked down at the punter position, and Bears searching for a kicker to complete the trinity, Scales might just be another Mannelly and be here as a career man.

The Bears have brought Scales back on one-year deals every offseason since 2018.

The Present:

Scales was retained on another one-year contract this past offseason. He’ll play his 71st game with the franchise on Sunday.

It’s not a stretch to say the Bears are confident in their direction of the kicker position after 2020. Cairo Santos, despite being brought in as a trial-and-error kicker, proved he can accurately kick in one of the toughest stadiums for place-kicking in the entire NFL. Scales plays a major role in that game, with his snaps an integral part of the timing between Snap-Hold-Kick progression.

The Bears didn’t exactly show a desire to kick or punt in their first game of the 2021 season, with three of their drives against the Rams ending on downs (a fourth ended on a fumble on 4th down, recovered by the defense). Matt Nagy seems still mentally-traumatized over the double-doink of forever-ago, so the 33-year old long-snapper Scales lately has seen little action in games.

Bears fans should hope his future action is on more field goals than punts this year.

The future:

Long-term contracts aren’t often given out to long-snappers, so it wouldn’t be realistic to expect Scales to see more than a two-year deal to return if he stays healthy. He’s been a model of consistency and work ethic on this Bears team which is currently lacking discipline in some areas. It would be good of Ryan Pace to reward Scales with some down-the-road money after this year to ensure Scales retires here.

Against the Bengals, the Bears have a real shot to break out on offense. Most touchdowns will be followed by an extra point started with Scales’ snap, and if the Bears offense stalls in Bengals territory, expect him there with a good snap to help Santos nail the kick.

Week 1 prediction:

He plays (sorry but they don’t give long-snappers much in the way of stats)