Bears Claim Versatile Ex-Rams Play-Maker Off Waivers: Report

Bears sign WR Nsimba Webster

Getty The Bears claimed wide receiver Nsimba Webster off waivers.

The Chicago Bears have added a potential contributor to the return game via the waiver wire. Per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Bears are adding former San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Nsimba Webster.

An undrafted free agent in 2019, Webster signed with the Rams and made the team’s initial 53-man roster before being moved down to the practice squad. He was activated again that season, and he served primarily as a returner for Los Angeles, playing in five games as a rookie.

Webster played in all 16 games for the Rams the following year, when he returned both kicks and punts. L.A. waived him this July, and he caught on with the 49ers shortly after that. He played in all three preseason games for San Francisco this year, but was released as part of the team’s roster cuts on August 31. He had 2 catches on 4 targets for 18 yards, returned 4 kicks for 89 yards (43 long) and returned one punt for 19 yards this preseason. Over his two-year pro career, he has averaged 22.4 yards per kickoff return and 6.3 yards per punt.

His role will likely be primarily on special teams as a punt returner, which the Bears sorely need with All-Pro Tarik Cohen out at least six weeks, possibly more.

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Nsimba Webster: A Refresher

Webster played his college ball at Eastern Washington, from 2015-18. He caught 156 passes for 2,233 yards and 18 touchdowns, and had a standout season in 2018, when he tallied 84 receptions, 1,379 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also had 1,114 total return yards on kickoffs in college, averaging 23.2 yards per return, and he averaged 18.3 yards per punt return, as well.

While there’s no filling Cohen’s shoes, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Webster ran a 4.49 40-yard dash coming out of college, and his speed can only help a Bears special teams unit that is also without its top defensive gunner in Cordarrelle Patterson, who left in free agency. Like Patterson, Webster can also be of assistance on defensive special teams, where his speed could put him in the gunner role. He has a total of 10 tackles on defensive special teams over his first two seasons (seven solo), so Chicago will likely try him out in that role, as well.

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Webster & Rookie Khalil Herbert Could Be Return Duo Week 1 vs Rams

With the addition of Webster coming less than two weeks from the Bears’ season opener against the Rams, he’ll likely be returning punts against L.A., particularly after the Bears waived rookie Dazz Newsome, who had been the team’s primary punt returner during the preseason.

Rookie Khalil Herbert will likely be the team’s kick returner heading into Week 1.

“He sits in the front row in the special teams meetings, takes notes, asks good questions,” Bears special teams coach Chris Tabor said about Herbert in August, via the team’s official website. “It’s our job just to keep playing him in different spots, and then as things go hopefully he kind of settles into something and he’s the player that we think he is. He’s a good football player.”

We’ll see what kind of duo Herbert and Webster make as returners for the Bears, as the play-making potential is there.

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