LAKE FOREST – Former Notre Dame captain Alex Bars is getting his shot.
The Bears promoted the offensive lineman from the practice squad to the active roster this week in the spot vacated by defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who went on injured reserve with an elbow injury. Bars will provide depth on the offensive line in the wake of right guard Kyle Long’s hip injury, which placed him on injured reserve.
Bars signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent in the spring after watching his draft stock plummet because of an ACL tear he suffered last fall during his final season at Notre Dame. Bars reaffirmed his commitment to the Bears this month when he elected to remain on their practice squad even after the New England Patriots offered him a spot on their 53-man roster.
Bars on Thursday confirmed the Patriots had made an offer, as the Chicago Tribune first reported.
“I felt like the opportunity here in this franchise was greater,” Bars said. “Some things went into it. I was talking back and forth with my agent and my parents. … There’s a loyalty aspect there in this league. I’m just thrilled to be here, honestly. Really, really lucky.”
Turning down the defending Super Bowl champions in favor of the Bears’ practice squad says a lot. It appears to have paid off for Bars now that he has earned his shot on the Bears’ active roster.
How Bars fits into the offensive line rotation has yet to be seen. Long had been dealing with the hip injury for a few weeks. He did not play against Minnesota in Week 4 and played through the injury in Week 5 against Oakland in London.
Veteran Ted Larsen is the presumptive favorite to take over the starting spot, although he is nursing a knee injury. Larsen was limited in practice Wednesday. That leaves Bars and third-year lineman Rashaad Coward.
“We’ve got three guys,” offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said this week. “Experience with Ted Larsen and two younger guys with Rashaad and Alex, and we’ll work through that.”
Hiestand was the Notre Dame offensive line coach from 2012 to 2017, and he recruited Bars, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, to the Fighting Irish.
“He gets on me, no doubt, but he wants me to be my best, and he cares so much about me,” Bars said of the line coach.
Head coach Matt Nagy said Bars has come in and worked hard and that “you appreciate guys that work hard to get to this point.”
Even on the practice squad, Bars prepared as if he were playing every week. The Bears’ defensive line presented a quality unit to go up against every day in practice.
“Transitioning to this level as well, coming off that injury, it was an adjustment I had to make, still making,” Bars said. “Every day I’m trying to improve and work against really, really good guys.”
Pineiro back on track
Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said kicker Eddy Pineiro is “fine” after tweaking his knee in the weight room a few weeks ago. Tabor said Pineiro is heading to Soldier Field on Friday to practice kicking in the stadium now that cooler weather has arrived, as Cody Parkey did last year.
Tabor also said the Bears expect Pineiro to resume kickoff duties, which punter Patrick O’Donnell has handled since Pineiro suffered the injury.
“Hoping so,” Tabor said.
“We’re working on it, and we’ll see where that’s at.”