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Camp: Hester's absence saves one man's job ... for now

There is at least one person happy with Devin Hester’s decision to no-show training camp on Wednesday, exceedingly happy.

That would the player who was going to go on the chopping block before the start of the first practice of the summer. When first-round draft pick Chris Williams signed his contract in the hours leading up to practice, it put the Bears at 81 players under contract, requiring them to release one to reach the league maximum of 80. That one player was spared as the team was able to place Hester on the reserve-did not report list.

It could save the player–it’s unknown who was in jeopardy–too if there is an injury or two between now and when Hester returns. One guess is that the Bears would let go of a running back. They’re flush with six after signing veteran Kevin Jones last week and that’s one more than the team carried in training camp last summer. The other five: Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Garrett Wolfe Matt Lawrence and P.J. Pope.

It’s interesting to take a look at the roster now vs. last year because of the hard limit on teams.

When the NFL did away with NFL Europa it prevented clubs from carrying extra bodies in camp. Teams would get training camp exemptions for roster spots as an incentive to ship players overseas for the spring league. The Bears took full advantage of it and have opened camps with close to 90 players before. Last year, they came to Bourbonnais with 84.

The most obvious difference is at kicker/punter. They had five to start last year as there were three punters. There are only three kicker punters this year with punter Zac Atterberry joining veteran punter Brad Maynard and kicker Robbie Gould. The other significant change is at safety. The Bears carried nine to start last year and have seven this time.

A look at the roster makeup this year and last:

Position 2007 2008

Quarterback 4-4

Running back 5-6

Fullback 3-3

Wide receiver 9-8

Tight end 4-5

Offensive linemen 13-13

KR/PR 1-1

Long snapper 1-1

Defensive linemen 12-13

Linebacker 10-9

Cornerback 8-8

Safety 9-7

K/P 5-3