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Quigley hopes to make most of rare opportunity

Posted Aug 24, 2012

With veteran punter Adam Podlesh sidelined with a hip flexor injury, undrafted rookie Ryan Quigley will get an extended audition in Friday night’s preseason game against the Giants.

With veteran punter Adam Podlesh sidelined with a hip flexor injury, undrafted rookie Ryan Quigley will get an extended audition in Friday night’s preseason game against the Giants.

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Quigley said. “As a rookie free agent, you couldn’t ask for anything more. I’m excited. I know this opportunity doesn’t come too often, so I’m looking to take advantage of it and do what I can to help the team and help our punt team do as well as we can.”

Rookie Ryan Quigley (1) will handle all punting chores in Friday night's game.

The Boston College product is looking for better results after averaging just 39.4 yards on five punts in the Bears’ first two preseason games against the Broncos and Redskins.

“I definitely have a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “I’m not happy with what I’ve done on the field thus far. I know I can do better. But I feel more comfortable every time I’m on the field. I punted four years at BC. Each year you learn something new. So I’m excited just to get out there.”

Quigley understands that the margin for error is much smaller in the NFL than it was in college.

“You see the speed and the returners are the best of the best,” he said. “So I know that I have to put a ball up there with good hang time, good distance and good direction. You can’t make mistakes because they’ll capitalize on them.”

With Podlesh’s status uncertain, the Bears are hoping that Quigley proves he belongs in the NFL.

“He’s been around here a while and he’s had some good punts,” said coach Lovie Smith. “But you want to see a guy in a game situation as much as anything. It’s a great opportunity. That’s about all you’re hoping for this late in the preseason is to have a chance to play and prove what you can do, and he’ll get that chance this week.”

Happy returns: The Bears have four players in Devin Hester, Eric Weems, Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox who have returned a kick for a touchdown in a regular season game.

Lorenzo Booker followed suit in last Saturday night’s 33-31 win over the Redskins, making two excellent cutback moves on a 105-yard kickoff return TD that would have been the longest in Bears history had it occurred in a regular season contest.

“He really did that on his own,” said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. “We had a guy come down unblocked and he had to avoid him and ended up outside the blocking. He had to beat three guys. That was a heck of a return he made.”

A preseason thing: Toub said that no one Bears player was responsible for Brandon Banks’ 91-yard punt return touchdown earlier in the game—a play on which Podlesh injured his hip.

“It’s a preseason thing,” Toub said. “We had the [second-string] in there. The kick was good. Podlesh made a good kick. We just made some mistakes. About five guys made mistakes on that one play. When you have that many breakdowns, you’re going to get a touchdown run on you.”

Rookie safety Brandon Hardin was the first player downfield, but the third-round pick from Oregon State was unable to corral the elusiveness Banks.

“In an ideal world he makes the play, but he also should have some help,” Toub said. “There should have been some gunners there making it spill to make the guy go lateral so he has an easier tackle. But he’s one of the best kick returners in the league. To make that tackle in space, not too many people can do that.”

Leg to stand on: Toub was far more enthused to see Robbie Gould drill a game-winning 57-yard field goal with :31 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The kick, which would have tied Gould’s record for the longest field goal in Bears history had it occurred in the regular season, came with Quigley holding and Tyler Clutts snapping.

“It was good for [Gould],” Toub said. “It was good for his confidence. It was good for the whole team’s confidence. The fact that we had a backup snapper and a backup holder says a lot about Robbie and what he is able to do.”

Gould lined the ball just over the crossbar to give the Bears the win after they had blown a 30-10 lead by allowing rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins to throw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes.

“The operation was clean,” Toub said. “Robbie didn’t hit it as pure as he would like, but it went over the [crossbar] and we got three points and we won. That’s all he remembers.”

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