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Roster Moves

Roster Moves: Bears promote Graham; activate Burns, Shelley

Thomas Graham Jr. in action.

The Bears on Tuesday made the following roster moves:

• Signed cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. from the practice squad to the active roster.

The rookie sixth-round pick from Oregon excelled in his NFL debut Monday night against the Vikings after being flexed from the practice squad hours before kickoff.

Playing all 64 snaps on defense, Graham registered seven tackles and three pass breakups versus one of the league's most explosive offenses. He was among several inexperienced players who were given an opportunity to suit up because all four Bears starting defensive backs were sidelined due to COVID-19.

"[Graham] was aggressive," coach Matt Nagy said Tuesday. "He did a great job of stepping up to the moment. I thought his tackling was really good. He was able to stick his nose in there and make some good tackles. He made a hell of a play there in the red zone, undercutting that post, made a great play down the sideline on the sideline fade. I thought he really stuck out."

At Oregon, Graham opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Prior to that, he appeared in 40 games over three seasons for the Ducks, registering 183 tackles, eight interceptions, 10.5 tackles-for-loss and 32 pass breakups. Graham was known for his play-making ability and ball skills at Oregon. Before opting out, he would have entered his senior season as the FBS leader in pass breakups and was tied for seventh among active FBS players in interceptions.

"He's a guy that's had success in college," Nagy said, "and then coming here and getting an opportunity against some good wide receivers and a good offense, that's only going to make him better. I just think it's great for him. You root for those type of stories, and he has certainly helped himself out with being able to play more."

• Removed cornerback Artie Burns and nickel back Duke Shelley from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Burns had been on the list since last Tuesday; Shelley since last Friday.

Burns recently made three straight starts against the Lions, Cardinals and Packers, registering 16 tackles, one tackle-for-loss and two pass breakups. He's in his second season with the Bears after missing the entire 2020 campaign with a torn ACL he sustained in training camp.

Shelley, a 2019 sixth-round pick from Kansas State, has played in nine games with three starts this season, compiling a career-high 31 tackles and three pass breakups.

• Placed defensive end Bilal Nichols on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The 2018 fifth-round pick from Delaware has appeared in all 14 games with 12 starts this year, recording 40 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, two sacks and one forced fumble. He had five tackles in Monday night's loss to the Vikings.

The Bears now have 13 players on the COVID list. In addition to Nichols, they are quarterback Andy Dalton, running back Ryan Nall, receivers Allen Robinson II and Isaiah Coulter, tight end Jesse James, right tackle Larry Borom, defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., inside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe, outside linebacker Sam Kamara, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, and safeties Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson Sr.

• Waived LB Ledarius Mack.

The younger brother of star outside linebacker Khalil Mack originally joined the Bears in 2020 as an undrafted free agent from Buffalo. Ledarius spent the majority of the past two seasons on the practice squad, but was flexed to the active roster and played in two games this year—against the Ravens Nov. 21 and the Vikings Monday night.

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