Bears sign QB Blake to one-year deal

Updated: August 14, 2005, 9:41 PM ET
Associated Press

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears agreed to a one-year deal with veteran quarterback Jeff Blake on Sunday, two days after Rex Grossman broke his left ankle.

Grossman, expected to be the starter, was scheduled for surgery Monday afternoon and will miss three to four months. The injury occurred during the second quarter of Friday's preseason game at St. Louis, when he was flushed from the pocket and twisted to the turf by the Rams' Trev Faulk.

Grossman tried to walk off the field, before crumbling and grabbing his leg in pain.

Chad Hutchinson is now the starter and rookie Kyle Orton the backup. Coach Lovie Smith said that won't change with the addition of Blake, a former Pro Bowl selection.

"I've been saying all along: I feel real good about the guys we have here," Smith said.

Blake has appeared in 117 games and passed for 21,656 yards for six teams in 13 seasons. His longest stay was with Cincinnati from 1994-99.

Grossman's injury casts a cloud over the Bears and, for that matter, himself.

This is the second consecutive year Grossman's season has been wrecked by an injury. Last year -- his second in the NFL and first as a starter -- he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the third week while rushing for a touchdown against Minnesota.

Without him, the Bears finished 5-11 with the worst offense in the NFL. Jonathan Quinn and Craig Krenzel failed as replacements before the Bears signed Hutchinson.

In the offseason, the team brought in veterans Kurt Warner, Jay Fiedler and Brad Johnson for visits but made it clear the Grossman was the No. 1 quarterback. The Bears also brought back Ron Turner for a second stint as offensive coordinator and acquired All-Pro wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad.

The Bears practiced Sunday for the first time since losing Grossman. Hutchinson, who had seen time with the first unit, has a more prominent role. Unlike last season, he has time to learn the offense.

"It's a whole different scenario," said Hutchinson, who was 1-4 as the starter last season.

The 27-year-old Hutchinson, speaking before the news about Blake broke, said he wasn't worried about the Bears adding a veteran quarterback.

"Right now, I'm thinking about winning ballgames," he said. "It's out of my control. My focus is on what I do."

With the addition of Blake, the Bears have some insurance if Hutchinson falters.

But Smith said, "We need three quarterbacks. Chad isn't looking over his shoulder. He's our guy."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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