The Bears signed kicker Brian Johnson to the practice squad for a second stint after he was waived by the New Orleans Saints on November 20. Johnson had spent the summer, preseason and the first part of his 2021 campaign with Chicago before getting poached off the practice squad by the Saints.
The Bears also placed defensive back Duke Shelley on injured reserve with a hamstring issue, and they signed defensive tackle Margus Hunt to the active roster.
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Johnson Had New Issue Pop Up in New Orleans
New Orleans promoted kicker Brett Maher from the practice squad and let Johnson walk after the rookie kicker started missing extra points. Johnson made eight out of eight field-goal attempts in his four games with the Saints, but he went 5-8 on extra points. He went 0-2 in the Saints’ November 14 loss to the Tennessee Titans — a game they lost by two points, 23-21. He was released shortly after that.
Johnson was perfect for the Bears this preseason, going 3-3 on his extra point attempts while making both field goals he tried, displaying a solid leg, hitting from 44 and 54 yards out. He also made all 131 extra points he attempted in college at Virginia Tech, so missing from close range is something new for him.
Johnson was one of four players protected on the practice squad this week, so he is already a valued player for Chicago.
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Bears K Cairo Santos Has Been Experiencing Some Issues of His Own
The Bears inked kicker Cairo Santos to a three-year, $9 million deal this offseason after he made 36 of 37 extra points and 30 of 32 field goals for them last season. He went on a tear that extended far into this season, making a streak of 40 consecutive field goals that lasted until Chicago’s Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Santos, whose career long is a 55-yarder, was sent by head coach Matt Nagy to attempt a 65-yard game-winner as time expired. His kick fell well short, and he hasn’t drilled a field goal since.
Santos missed his only other attempt since that miss, shanking a 40-yarder against the Baltimore Ravens in the Bears’ Week 12 loss. While Santos isn’t going anywhere, the presence of Johnson on the PS could push him a bit, particularly when the team makes the rookie kicker a protected player on the practice squad.
“I’ve always thought that starting a streak is harder than keeping one because to start a streak you just came off a miss, and kind of getting yourself together to start that again I think is the hardest part, and it’s one that you hope for more than to keep one going,” Santos said about his still ongoing streak on October 13.
That’s where he is now, and over a month later, it’s proving to be true.