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Roster Moves: Bears claim Kareem, Johnson off waivers

New Bears DL Khalid Kareem and DB Quindell Johnson
New Bears DL Khalid Kareem and DB Quindell Johnson

The Bears on Wednesday claimed defensive end Khalid Kareem and safety Quindell Johnson off waivers from the Colts and Rams, respectively.

To make room on their roster, the Bears waived defensive end Terrell Lewis and safety A.J. Thomas.

Kareem, 25, has appeared in 27 NFL games with one start over three seasons with the Bengals (2020-21) and Colts (2022), registering 29 tackles, 1.0 sack, two tackles-for-loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

The 6-4, 265-pounder was selected by Cincinnati in the fifth round of the 2020 draft out of Notre Dame, where he teamed with Bears tight end Cole Kmet and receivers Equanimeous St. Brown and Chase Claypool. 

Kareem was signed by the Colts off the Bengals practice squad on Nov. 22, 2022. This preseason he registered 3.0 sacks, including one against the Bears Aug. 19 when he dropped quarterback Nathan Peterman on the final play of the game. 

Assistant general manager Ian Cunningham revealed that Kareem appealed to the Bears because of his athleticism, motor and flexibility as a pass rusher. 

"We had a chance to see him a couple weeks ago in Indy," Cunningham said. "We watched him last week as well, probably for the third time."

Take a look at the players on the Bears' initial active roster for the 2023 season. (As of Aug. 29, 2023)

Cunningham explained that the Bears chose Kareem over Lewis because "Kareem showed a little bit more of what we were looking for in terms of playing the run, playing the pass. He showed a little bit more of the scheme fit that our defensive staff was looking for."

Johnson, meanwhile, entered the NFL this year with the Rams as an undrafted free agent from Memphis. Last season as a senior he played in 11 games and compiled 68 tackles, four interceptions and five pass breakups.

Last Friday in the Rams' preseason finale in Denver, Johnson registered eight tackles, 1.0 sack and one pass breakup.

"With Quindell, we had a really good feel for him coming out [in the draft]," Cunningham said. "[Bears assistant director of college scouting] Breck Ackley did a really good job on him evaluating him. We were in the process of trying to get him during the UDFA process but we weren't lucky enough to get him, but we are now. He's a physical, downhill safety. He had 10 career interceptions in college, so he's got good ball skills. He's going to help [special teams coordinator] Richard Hightower on special teams, so we're excited."

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