Bears cut veteran RB Taylor after week of speculation

CHICAGO -- The Bears made it official Saturday and released running back Chester Taylor, bringing an expected end to a wild chain of events.

The Bears terminated the veteran's contract, along with that of tight end Desmond Clark, while paring their roster to 53 before the 6 p.m. ET deadline. The team also waived defensive tackle Marcus Harrison and eight other players while placing rookie linebacker J.T. Thomas on season-ending injured reserve with a hip problem.

Fullback Harvey Unga was placed on the reserve/left squad list, meaning he doesn't count against the 53-player roster. He left the team twice during the preseason -- to be with his wife for the birth of their second child and for personal reasons -- and isn't being paid.

Among the players who made the cut in Chicago were former Ohio State star Dane Sanzenbacher, an undrafted rookie who was second on the team in catches (10) and receiving yards (107) during the preseason.

Taylor, meanwhile, appeared to be on the way out for a while, hinting earlier in the week that he was finished in Chicago.

Taylor didn't play in the third preseason game at Tennessee and left Bears headquarters Monday believing he had been released after a meeting with coach Lovie Smith. Taylor was back practicing the next day and started in the Thursday night's preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns, struggling for 27 yards on 10 attempts.

Taylor said afterward that he wasn't sure about his future in Chicago.

"I still love football," he said. "I still love playing the game. I still believe I can help a team win."

The Bears signed Taylor in 2010 to a four-year, $12.5 million contract with $7 million guaranteed, hoping he would push starter Matt Forte. Instead, Taylor ran for just 267 yards while averaging a career-low 2.4 yards per carry.

That wasn't quite what the Bears had in mind on that blockbuster day when they reeled in Taylor along with Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers and blocking tight end Brandon Manumaleuna.

Peppers delivered as expected, but he's the last player standing from that group. The Bears cut Manumaleuna in late July.

If there was any doubt Taylor was on shaky ground in Chicago, it got wiped away when the team signed Marion Barber and added him to the mix behind Forte. Barber now is the No. 2 running back, and with third-stringer Kahlil Bell contributing on special teams, there was no room for Taylor.

Clark was seldom used last season, but he re-signed with the Bears soon after training camp started. He bruised his left knee during the preseason game at Tennessee on a brutal hit by safety Anthony Smith while trying to make a catch and was placed on the terminated/injured list Saturday, although he had indicated the injury wasn't as severe as it appeared to be.

The Bears will go with Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth at tight end, along with undrafted rookie Kyle Adams, who's also a fullback.

Clark ranks ninth in team history with 242 catches and 20th with 2,639 receiving yards, and he has 18 touchdown catches since joining the Bears in 2003. He also played for the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins and has 323 career receptions for 3,591 yards with 27 TDs in 12 seasons.

The 6-3, 316-pound Harrison, a third-round draft pick by the Bears in 2008, showed up to camp out of shape for the second time in three years. He appeared in 37 games and made nine starts for Chicago.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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