Bears roster churn includes Gould, Sitton

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On Sunday, the Chicago Bears didn’t rest. A day after setting the NFL-mandated 53 man roster limit, General Manager Ryan Pace and his Bears staff reworked the bottom of the roster and made two high-impact moves.

Chicago parted ways with the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, kicker Robbie Gould, and bolstered the offensive line by signing former Green Bay Packers Pro Bowler Josh Sitton. Both maneuvers carry both short and long-term implications.

Gould struggled through the second half of last season, missing two important kicks down the stretch that ultimately cost the Bears home victories. His last memory in a Bears uniform came on a rainy night in Cleveland where he missed two extra point attempts in the preseason wrap-up. Gould appeared in 166 games over 11 seasons (2005-15) in Chicago, setting numerous NFL and franchise records.

In his place, the Bears turned to veteran Connor Barth, who lost out in a training camp battle with Kai Forbath in New Orleans. Barth has also kicked in Tampa, and filled in for the Broncos when Head Coach John Fox and Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers were in Denver.

Gould ranks as the most accurate kicker in Chicago Bears history and ninth most accurate in NFL history, converting 276-of-323 (85.4%) career field goals.Gould owns club records in career points (1,207), field goals made (276), field goals made of 50 yards or more (23), field goals made in a season (33 in 2015) and longest field goal made (58-yards in 2013). He occupies the top seven highest single-season field goal percentages in Bears history, including franchise best mark of 89.7 percent (26-of-29) achieved in both the 2008 and 2013 seasons. Gould also owns five of the top seven single-season point totals in Bears history (2nd, 143 points in 2006; 4th, 127 in 2015; 5th, 126 points in 2007; 6th, 123 points in 2013 and 7th, 121 points in 2011). Gould holds franchise records with 10 seasons of 20+ FGs (2005-13 and ’15) and seven seasons of 25+ FGs (2006-08, ‘10-11, ‘13 and ’15).

The Penn State alum owns the third best field goal percentage from 50 yards or longer in NFL History (minimum 10 attempts) at 74.2 percent (23-of-31). He also holds a franchise record with 22 consecutive games with a field goal (10/23/05-11/6/06). In 2015, Gould hit team-record seven field goals of 50-plus yards (7-for-9). In 2006, he became the first placekicker in Bears history to be selected to the Pro Bowl after leading all kickers with 143 points during the 2006 season (one point shy of the franchise record).

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Meanwhile, Sitton, a three time Pro Bowler (2012, 2014-15), has started 112-of-121 games over eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He owns 64 starts at right guard, 47 at left guard and one at left tackle. Over the course of his career, the UCF alum has garnered numerous honors, including 2010 Offensive Lineman of the Year (NFL Alumni Association), first-team all-Pro (Sporting News 2014), first-team all-NFL (PFWA, 2014), second-team all-Pro (AP, 2013-15) and was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2010-11 and ’13. Sitton helped the Packers offense rank first in the NFL in scoring (30.4), sixth in yards per game (386.1) and tied for first in giveaways with a franchise-record low 13 in 2014. He was also part of an offensive line that tied for ninth in the league in sacks allowed with 30 in 2014. In 2013, he helped the Packers offense finish seventh in the NFL in rushing yards and sixth in rushing yards. Sitton was part of an offense that set Green Bay records in points (560), total net yards (6,482) and total net passing yards (4,924) in 2011.

Sitton is expected to become the immediate starter at Left Guard, forming a powerful Guard duo along with Kyle Long. Second-round draft choice Cody Whitehair may move inside and battle incumbent veteran Ted Larsen for the starting center spot.

Elsewhere, the Bears added depth at Cornerback, Offensive Line and Tight End. Undrafted free agent Crevon LaBlanc, whom the Bears practiced against in joint workouts with the New England Patriots, was added to the roster Monday off waivers. LaBlanc is a stockily-built physical corner who lacks top end speed and is on the small side but has a nose for the ball. TE Logan Paulsen fits the tough and reliable mold that Head Coach John Fox

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prefers. He sat out 2015 due to a painful turf toe injury. In OL Eric Kush, the Bears added more depth to the interior. A former sixth-round pick of the Chiefs, Kush saw action in seven contests with the Rams last year.

The dizzying array of moves didn’t stop yesterday. The Bears continued making moves Tuesday, swapping long snappers, Patrick Scales, who was waived Saturday in the 53-man cutdown, was brought back and Aaron Brewer let go. To free up space for Sitton, the Bears released Guard Amini Silatolu.

Chicago returns to the practice field this afternoon in preparation for Sunday’s regular season opener at Houston.

Extra Points: The Bears are finalizing the practice squad. Tuesday included news that former USC QB Matt Barkley, who began his career in Philadelphia and was most recently with Arizona, has been added. Among the other practice squad players are LB John Timu, CB DeVaunte Bausby, and OL Jason Weaver.

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