With AAF no longer a thing, Bears will work out more kickers

Koo, Rose have NFL ex­pe­ri­ence

The Buffalo News - - NFL -

CHICAGO _ The pre­ma­ture demise of the Al­liance of Amer­i­can Foot­ball has given the Chicago Bears a chance to look at pos­si­bil­i­ties for their kicking com­pe­ti­tion ear­lier than ex­pected.

Mul­ti­ple sources told the Tri­bune the Bears will host Younghoe Koo and Nick Rose in a try­out Wed­nes­day at Halas Hall. It’s be­lieved they might bring in at least one ad­di­tional kicker that day.

The Bears have two kickers un­der con­tract, and nei­ther Chris Ble­witt nor Red­ford Jones has NFL ex­pe­ri­ence. Koo and Rose have both kicked in the NFL and were two of the best in the short-lived AAF sea­son.

Koo, 24, spent four games with the Charg­ers in 2017, when he made 3 of 6 field-goal at­tempts and 9 of 9 ex­tra points. The Ge­or­gia South­ern alum­nus hit eight of his 14 kick­offs for touch­backs.

Koo was 14 of 14 on field goals for the Atlanta Le­gends in the AAF with a long of 38 yards.

Rose, 24, spent two games with the Charg­ers in 2017 and eight games with the Red­skins that sea­son. He was 11 of 14 on field goals with a long of 55 and made 23 of 26 ex­tra points. The Texas alum­nus hit 32 of his 47 kick­offs for touch­backs.

Rose was also 14 of 14 on field goals for the San An­to­nio Com­man­ders in the AAF with a long of 54 and another from 50 yards.

Koo and Rose will try out Tues­day for the Vikings, who have one kicker on their ros­ter, vet­eran Dan Bai­ley. He was re-signed to a one-year, $1 mil­lion con­tract this off­sea­son that in­cludes $250,000 guar­an­teed, so it’s pos­si­ble the Vikings will chal­lenge him by sign­ing another kicker.

It would not be sur­pris­ing if the Bears also look at AAF kicker El­liott Fry. He was 14 of 14 on field goals for the Or­lando Apol­los with a long of 47. Fry, who kicked in col­lege at South Carolina, has not been on an NFL ros­ter. He had a try­out with the Buc­ca­neers in 2017.

Bears gen­eral man­ager Ryan Pace said the team is keep­ing all op­tions open in the com­pe­ti­tion this spring and sum­mer to re­place Cody Parkey.

“Right now we’re all just very open­minded,” Pace said last month at the NFL own­ers meet­ing. “So we have two kickers on the ros­ter now, and we’re open to con­tinue to add com­pe­ti­tion to the po­si­tion – and the key­word is ‘com­pe­ti­tion’ at that spot. And do­ing cre­ative things to make them feel that pres­sure and that com­pe­ti­tion.

“The more we study it and the more we look at kickers around the league _ we can talk about (Saints kicker Will) Lutz or (Ravens kicker Justin) Tucker and all th­ese guys _ you look at how they came into the league and where they came from, there’s so many dif­fer­ent an­gles and av­enues how they came and be­came good kickers. So we’re very open right now in in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion there.”

Maybe the new an­gle is find­ing a kicker from the AAF to add to the mix.

Mean­while, the AAF is­sued a state­ment of apol­ogy late Fri­day over its abrupt sus­pen­sion of play on Tues­day, eight weeks into the 10-week reg­u­lar sea­son.

“This week, we made the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to sus­pend all foot­ball op­er­a­tions for the Al­liance of Amer­i­can Foot­ball. We un­der­stand the dif­fi­culty that this de­ci­sion has caused for many peo­ple and for that we are very sorry,” the state­ment opened.

“This is not the way we wanted it to end, but we are also com­mit­ted to work­ing on so­lu­tions for all out­stand­ing is­sues to the best of our abil­ity. Due to on­go­ing le­gal pro­cesses, we are un­able to com­ment fur­ther or share de­tails about the de­ci­sion.”

De­spite a glitzy start to the sea­son in Fe­bru­ary, the AAF ran into fi­nan­cial prob­lems al­most im­me­di­ately. Carolina Hur­ri­canes owner Tom Dun­don made a $250 mil­lion com­mit­ment to the league, putting in $70 mil­lion at the time, and be­came the ma­jor­ity owner. He pulled the plug on the league this week de­spite the protests of league co-founder Bill Po­lian.

“When Mr. Dun­don took over, it was the be­lief of my co-founder, Char­lie Eber­sol, and my­self that we would fin­ish the sea­son, pay our cred­i­tors, and make the nec­es­sary ad­just­ments to move for­ward in a man­ner that made eco­nomic sense for all,” Po­lian said in a state­ment.

The league’s state­ment on Fri­day went on to ex­press grat­i­tude to play­ers, coaches, fans and other league em­ploy­ees.

Wal­ton waived by Ben­gals

The Cincin­nati Ben­gals waived run­ning back Mark Wal­ton af­ter his third ar­rest of 2019, the team an­nounced on Satur­day.

“It’s im­por­tant for our team to get off to a fresh start as we be­gin the 2019 sea­son,” said head coach Zac Tay­lor in the state­ment.

“For that rea­son, we felt it best if we move for­ward with­out Mark Wal­ton. We hope his sit­u­a­tion gets re­solved, but we don’t want to take any­thing away from the good work that so many other play­ers have al­ready be­gun to demon­strate.”

Wal­ton sur­ren­dered to po­lice in Florida on Thurs­day on a felony charge of car­ry­ing a con­cealed weapon, along with mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion and reck­less driv­ing in con­nec­tion with an in­ci­dent that oc­curred March 12 in North Mi­ami-Dade.

That evening, po­lice tried to pull over Wal­ton as he drove er­rat­i­cally. When he did park the car, he got out and ran away. He was shot in the back with a stun gun as he tried to es­cape but man­aged to re­move the prongs and van­ish, ac­cord­ing to the Mi­ami Her­ald, cit­ing court doc­u­ments.

A search of the car, which had been rented in Wal­ton’s name, re­sulted in po­lice lo­cat­ing a 9 mm car­bine ri­fle, sev­eral loaded clips and 14 grams of mar­i­juana, ac­cord­ing to po­lice. He had pur­chased the weapon legally.

On Feb. 16, he was ar­rested and charged with mis­de­meanor bat­tery in South Florida.

Po­lice said those charges stemmed from an ar­gu­ment he had with a cou­ple at his con­do­minium com­plex over his car block­ing the en­trance to the park­ing garage, the Mi­ami Her­ald re­ported.

He also was ar­rested on a mis­de­meanor mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion charge in Jan­uary and is await­ing trial.

Getty Im­ages

Younghoe Koo has four games of NFL ex­pe­ri­ence with the Charg­ers and will get another chance to catch on with an NFL team.

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