The Chicago Bears have released linebacker Rashad Smith from the practice squad, and they also brought ex-Michigan fullback-tight end hybrid Ben Mason in for a workout, per the NFL’s December 7 waiver wire.
The Bears initially signed Smith as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He was signed to Chicago’s practice squad before spending a short time on the active rosters of both the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles last year. He hasn’t stayed in one place for too long, landing with the Bears for a second stint this season when he was signed to the practice squad again in September. Chicago has been released and re-signed once since that time, and now, he has been let go again.
Mason was a fifth-round draft pick out of Michigan for the Baltimore Ravens in 2021 (184th overall), but in a surprise move, Baltimore waived him before the start of the regular season.
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Ben Mason: Background, Stats & Injury History
Mason was signed to the New England Patriots‘ practice squad after he was released by the Ravens, but he was released on November 8. A versatile player in college, many were a tad surprised when Baltimore selected him in the fifth round as an apparent eventual successor to Pro Bowl fullback in Patrick Ricard. The Ravens were also considering using him as a blocking tight end, but it wasn’t meant to be.
The 6-foot-3 246-pound Mason spent four years under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. He played fullback his first two seasons with the Wolverines, and spent time on the defensive side of the ball as a junior, playing defensive tackle for five games. He converted to tight end as a senior, where he was used primarily as a brute on the offensive line. He caught just two passes all year for 17 yards and a touchdown. In his time as a fullback, Mason had 37 carries for 87 yards and nine TDs.
Mason tore his meniscus as a sophomore, but other than that, he has no red flags injury-wise.
It’s likely the Bears would be looking to use him the same way they use JP Holtz: as a TE who is used primarily as a blocker. With his versatility, Mason could very well catch passes out of the backfield, too.
UPDATE: The Bears signed Mason to their practice squad on December 7.
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Bears Have Interesting Practice Squad Protections Heading Into Week 14 vs Packers
Chicago chose to protect four players on their practice squad this week after waiving Smith: receivers Dazz Newsome and Isaiah Coulter, outside linebacker Bruce Irvin and defensive back Thomas Graham. Irvin was elevated to the active roster Week 13, and that could be the case again for Chicago’s December 12 Sunday night clash against the Green Bay Packers.
With wide receiver Allen Robinson still out with a hamstring injury and veteran wideout Marquise Goodwin also missing time, it’s possible the Bears are considering seeing what they have in sixth-rounder Newsome. Fellow sixth-rounder Graham could also see his first NFL action Sunday.