The Chicago Bears will turn to their practice squad to replace tight end Zach Miller:
Ben Braunecker activated by Bears to replace Zach Miller after losing the TE for the season to injury
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) November 7, 2017
Jason La Canfora reports that Ben Braunecker will be the newest addition to the Bears’ tight ends room in the wake of Miller’s season-ending knee injury, and this will mark his second stint with the big team. He played 13 games (two starts) in 2016, catching four of six passes thrown in his direction and gained 41 yards, but played more snaps on special teams (210) than he did on offense (145).
UPDATE: The Bears have made the move officially official:
We have promoted TE Ben Braunecker to our active roster and signed Colin Thompson to our practice squad. We have placed Zach Miller on IR. #DaBears
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 7, 2017
Braunecker, who checks in at 6-foot-4 and 252 pounds, was waived as part of the team’s final cuts and was quickly re-signed and placed on the practice squad after clearing waivers. His familiarity with the Bears made him an easy choice to add to the active 53-man roster, though it remains to be seen whether he’ll join the game day roster of 46.
In all likelihood, Braunecker will be in the mix for playing time along with Dion Sims, Adam Shaheen, and Daniel Brown. Since there is no clear-cut replacement for Miller, his snaps are up for grabs and can be taken by whoever steps up in practice and impresses the coaching staff in the days ahead of Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
The Harvard product flashed at the NFL Combine and at the university’s pro day, and was eventually signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Braunecker finished with the fastest 60-yard shuttle time among tight ends (11.32 seconds), second in the vertical jump (35.5 inches), broad jump (121 inches), three-cone drill (6.90 seconds), and 20-yard shuffle (4.20 seconds), while also finishing third-most bench-press reps (20) among players at his position.