Ex-first round pick, 9-time Pro Bowler Brown placed on IR by Bears
In a move that could end his tenure with the Chicago Bears, and possibly his celebrated NFL career as well, nine-time Pro Bowl left offensive guard Ruben Brown was placed on injured reserve Thursday afternoon, ending his 2007 season.Brown, 35, started in eight games this year, but battled shoulder problems all season. The club finally decided that the condition merited Brown taking time off to address the issue. Sixth-year veteran Terrence Metcalf will take over the starting job at left guard on Sunday when the Bears face the Oakland Raiders. A first-round choice of Buffalo in the 1995 draft, Brown played nine seasons for the Bills (1995-2003) before signing with the Bears as a free agent in 2004. In his 3½ seasons with Chicago, he started 45 games, including the last 32 in a row. Last offseason, Brown was an unrestricted free agent, but even with his sterling resume, he drew only modest interest from other teams. After testing the market, he eventually signed a one-year contract with the Bears, with a base salary of $1 million. That contract will expire in the spring and Brown will be eligible again for free agency. But given his age, and the fact he is coming off an injury, it might be difficult for him to find a team willing to sign him. One of the game's best in-line blockers over the course of his career, and at times a dominating drive-blocker, the former University of Pittsburgh star appeared in 181 games, all as a starter. He started all 16 contests in six different seasons. Metcalf, 29, has appeared in 70 games and started in 20 of them. The former University of Mississippi standout was chosen by the Bears in the third round of the 2002 draft.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.