Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Bears Work Out 3, including ex-Vikings DT and nephew of the former trainer

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A week after their departure, the Chicago Bears brought three defenders to practice, according to the NFL waiver.

The team developed Defensive Ends John Daka and Carlo Kent along with Defensive Tackle Hercules Mata’afa, which suggests that one could try to add another defensive player to the training roster.

Chicago has two defensive linemen on its practice team that is currently busy. The 16 players on the bears’ PS are: Nsimba Webster (WR / PR), Dazz Newsome (WR), Isaiah Coulter (WR), Rodney Adams (WR), Artavis Pierce (RB), Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (OL), Arlington Hambright (OL), Dieter Eiselen (OL), Charles Snowden (OLB), Cassius Marsh (OLB), Sam Kamara (OLB), Ledarius Mack (LB), Rashad Smith (ILB), LaCale London (DL), Margus Hunt (DL), Thomas Graham Jr. (CB).

Daka, Kent and Mata’afa have fascinating backgrounds – and one is the nephew of former Bears defense coordinator Chuck Pagano.

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A defensive end from James Madison, the 6-foot-2,240-pound daka (he was also listed at 227 pounds) had 137 tackles (47.5 for loss), 27.5 sacks, four PDs, six forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 51 of his college games played 2016-2019.

Daka signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2020 as an undrafted free agent, but was part of the team’s latest roster cuts. He’s had brief stints with the New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams this year, but both teams have failed.

One interesting note: the Rams listed Daka as 227 pounds, which isn’t the framework you’d expect from a D-lineman – but LA used him differently too, incorporating him as an edge rusher and outside linebacker, what Chicago would be could have planned.

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Another defensive end, Kemp played his college ball in Michigan, where he was team captain during his junior and senior seasons. At 6-foot-3 and 286 pounds, Kemp had a total of 83 tackles (10.5 for loss), 5.0 sacks, and a fumble recovery in two years as a starter in Michigan. Kemp is a versatile player with the Wolverines and has flirted with playing outside the linebacker before.

“At the NFL level, I could imagine walking back and forth like I did here in Michigan,” Kemp said before the draft on MLive. “Being able to put my hand in the dirt and possibly even get up really helps me get to the next level, where you definitely have to be a versatile guy.”

Kemp signed as UDFA with rival Green Bay Packers that year and spent his summer in Wisconsin but was ultimately part of the team’s recent roster cuts. The young pass rusher has an interesting family connection with the Bears: he’s the nephew of former Indianapolis Colts head coach and ex-Bears defense coordinator Chuck Pagano.

Mata’afa, who is six feet tall and weighs 254 pounds, played his college ball in Washington State. He counted 121 tackles (45.5 for loss), 21.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles in his three seasons as a starter in the Pac-12.

The defensive tackle has the most NFL experience of any of the three defensive players Chicago has worked this week as he is the only one who has ever played in a regular season game. Mata’afa signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2018, but an ACL injury ended his season before it began.

He made it to Minnesota’s last 53-man roster in 2019, playing in six games, registering a tackle for the loss and a PD. He played 13 games for the Vikings last season, finishing with 24 tackles (three for loss), 2.5 sacks and six QB hits. Mata’afa was abandoned by the Vikings in August and has not yet caught on anywhere.

We’ll see if any of the three prevail in Chicago.

CONTINUE READING: Bears Coach challenges veteran defenders and calls for slow start

He made it to Minnesota’s last 53-man roster in 2019, playing in six games, registering a tackle for the loss and a PD. He played 13 games for the Vikings last season, finishing with 24 tackles (three for loss), 2.5 sacks and six QB hits. Mata’afa was abandoned by the Vikings in August and has not yet caught on anywhere.

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