Bears re-sign LB Sam Acho; add depth to OLB, special teams

SHARE Bears re-sign LB Sam Acho; add depth to OLB, special teams

Bears linebacker Sam Acho. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

The Bears re-signed linebacker Sam Acho to a one-year contract Monday, adding to their depth at outside linebacker and providing a boost for their special teams.

Acho, 27, who played in 15 games and started seven last season,was the Bears’ fifth-leading tackler on defense with 60 (31 solo) and also had three tackles-for-loss, four quarterback pressures, one pass break-up, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 450 snaps. Acho also was the Bears’ fourth-leading tackler on special teams with eight (six solo).

Primarily a base-defense defender, Acho started seven games after Jared Allen was traded to the Carolina Panthers in Week 4. But Acho’s role diminished as Lamarr Houston and Willie Young became more productive as pass-rushers. Acho played just 14 defensive snaps against the Buccaneers in Week 16 and 19 against the Lions in Week 17.

Last year Acho provided experience in a 3-4 defense that the Bears did not have in Vic Fangio’s first season with the Bears. Now they figure to return Pernell McPhee, Houston and Young with 3-4 experience. The Bears also could draft a pass-rushing outside linebacker in April — they have the 11th pick of the first round. Even if they don’t, Acho’s key role could be on special teams, where the Bears struggled in 2015 under Jeff Rodgers.

The Bears clearly have emphasized their special teams in the offseason. They re-signed Sherrick McManis, their leading special-teams tackler last season with 17 (11 solo). They also re-signed safety Chris Prosinski (nine special-teams tackles) and running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who played a prominent role on special teams (four tackles, one fumble recovery in five games) before suffering a broken right arm in Week 5 against the Chiefs.

The Bears also have signed wide receivers Marc Mariani and Deonte Thompson and long-snapper Aaron Brewer to shore up their special teams.

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