Sunday, October 2, 2022

NFC contender eyes ex-Bears WR after signing ex-Chicago OL

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The Arizona Cardinals practice team is quickly filling up with former Chicago Bears players.

A week after signing former Bears wide receiver Javon Wims, the Cards added former Bears offensive lineman Lahavious “Pig” Simmons to their practice team, according to the NFL’s Sept. 20 waiver. Arizona is also showing interest in another ex-Bear, bringing recently released Bears wide receiver Tajae Sharpe to a tryout.

The Bears fired Simmons on his birthday this year (September 12), and he coached for the New England Patriots before ending up with the Cardinals. Sharpe was released on September 9 with an injury compensation. We’ll see if he did enough to impress the Cardinals during his practice.

The Bears drafted Simmons in the seventh round (227th overall) from Tennessee State in 2020, and he’s mostly served as a depth addition the past two seasons, appearing in two games and starting one.

The 6-foot-5, 319-pound Simmons is widely referred to by his nickname “pig,” which he says his grandmother gave him as a child.

“She used to always cook collards and cornbread and stuff like that, and I used to just google it,” Simmons told the team’s official website in 2020 shortly after his call-up. “That’s how I got the nickname ‘pig,’ and it just stuck.”

In 23 snaps played for the Bears last year, Simmons allowed four pressings and 2.0 sacks, according to Pro Football Focus, so he’s still a work in progress. However, he has a great attitude and a solid work ethic, so it will be interesting to see if he can work his way up in Arizona.

“I’m a day-one guy,” Simmons said in 2020. “I’m a worker who grew up on a farm throwing hay bales — disciplined. My hard work rivals anyone’s.”

Sharpe signed with the Bears this offseason, and he had a legitimate shot at making the team’s roster, especially after a solid preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 27-year-old wideout caught two catches on two targets for 44 yards against Kansas City, including a blinding toe-tapper on the touchline, but didn’t play after that. A rib injury ruled him out, and the team eventually released him from injured reserve with an injury rule.

“I think Tajae is very similar to Darnell [Mooney] where he can get used to balls being thrown at him and stuff like that,” Bears quarterback Justin Fields said of Sharpe in August, per NBC Sports’ Josh Schrock. “He’s got that off-the-ball dexterity, and he’s probably two to three inches taller than Darnell too, so he’s got good reach, he’s got great hands, like I said, great ball ability.”

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound Sharpe has 117 catches for 1,397 yards and eight touchdowns in his five years in the league. He played 15 games for the Atlanta Falcons last year, starting seven and finishing with 25 catches for 230 yards. If he’s healthy, he’ll likely end up with a squad in need of receivers soon.

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