Williams Out, Mariani in as Kick Returner for Bears Sunday

The Chicago Bears signed kick returner Marc Mariani earlier in the week as an insurance policy in case Chris Williams wasn’t able to play on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it appears that their forethought was rewarded as Williams was ruled out of the game on the team’s Friday injury report.

Defensive end Trevor Scott and linebacker Darryl Sharpton were also ruled out for the game, but the big blow is losing Williams in the return game. He has been far from great during his time in the role, but he was a better fit than Senorise Perry or Rashad Ross was, and to not have in the lineup will be some unwelcome news.

Despite the loss, the Bears feel confident in Mariani’s abilities. He was selected to play in the 2010 Pro Bowl after returning a punt and a kick-off for touchdowns with the Tennessee Titans, but injuries have prevented him from suiting up the past two years.

With the Bears, he’ll get a fresh start, and Bears brass is optimistic that he will bring them success in this so-far painfully bad area.

“First of all, he’s got great what I call ‘returner mechanics,’” Joe DeCamillis told the media this week. “He runs through the ball on kickoff returns; he catches punts like textbook.”

Fortunately for the Bears, the injury report was mostly positive, as wide receivers Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Josh Morgan were all listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Jordan Mills is still listed as questionable, and head coach Marc Trestman said he will be re-evaluated on Saturday.

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