Don’t let the number 54 fool you, Geno Hayes (now 91) isn’t Brian Urlacher. But the Chicago Bears are hoping he’s good enough to keep their playoff hopes alive. While Hayes isn’t going to play middle linebacker, he will fill in at strong side linebacker for Nick Roach who now takes over for Urlacher.
Hayes has been around the league. As you can see from the photo, the former Florida State star played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before joining the Bears this season. His best season was 2009 when he had 98 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble and recovery. In 2009, he led the league in stuffs (tackles behind the line of scrimmage) with 11 and was tied for second with 11.5 in 2010. Hayes also has shined on special teams with two blocked punts (one returned for a touchdown) on his resume.
The Bears brought him in as a free agent to boost their special teams and linebacker depth. Little did they know that he was going to become one of the most important additions in the off-season. While he’s been a solid contributor on special teams, he’s now needed in a much bigger role. Roach has been one of the Bears most solid performers, and with Roach having the monumental task of replacing Urlacher the Bears have to hope that Hayes does his job as well.
The Bears also brought back a familiar face in Dom DeCicco. An undrafted rookie out of Pitt, DeCicco was a solid special teams performer last season before being released with an injury settlement this year. The assumption is DeCicco will move into Hayes’ role on special teams.
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