When the Chicago Bears signed special teams phenom Eric Weems this offseason, it was collectively decided that he was signed to help Devin Hester in the return role, and it basically stated that Johnny Knox would not be ready to go when the season kicks off against the Indianapolis Colts.
Knox, after receiving a season-ending back injury that required surgery, is not sure when he will be able to go again this season. Knox said he was taking things "day to day," stating that "I'm not trying to rush things and mess things up any worse, so I'm just taking it day by day." With that in mind, it's no wonder the Bears went out to sign another player.
But just who is Eric Weems? And can he really help Chicago in the way that Knox did last season?
Weems is a player who was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. He only saw the field once that year and did not post any stats. However, shortly after that, he began to make some noise throughout the league.
In 2008, he started seeing the field a little more, making a few catches that season and even getting a fumble recovery.
In 2009, his career really started to take off. He won the starting role as the kick returner, and he also caught two touchdown passes as a WR.
This past season, Weems was selected as a first team alternate to the 2011 Pro Bowl.
Weems can help the team in the special teams game by taking on the role that Johnny Knox played in helping Hester, however, much like Devin Thomas, Weems will probably see limited time on the field at WR.
Weems left the Falcons as the starting returner on punts and kickoffs, so it stands to reason that he is going to see the field a lot in Chicago, especially with Hester taking an increased role at WR to pick up slack with Knox out.
In his career, Weems only has 24 receptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns—both touchdowns coming in the 2009 season. Look to see Weems get more time as a WR than that in Chicago, but he will not be an everyday starter on offense.
Ever since the amazing run Hester had in 2006, the Chicago Bears have been looking for a player to help Hester return punts and kicks after teams refused to even punt to Hester.
Now that Knox is out, it is looking like Weems will play a big role in the return game for Chicago next season. Even if he and Hester split playing time, it will still mean there will be two players who opposing teams will have to watch out for. Some teams may even return to punting it out of bounds every time.
And as everyone saw in 2006, having a good return game can do wonders for a team in helping them win games.