Podlesh excited for return to Jacksonville

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears punter Adam Podlesh called Jacksonville home for four years before he signed a free agent deal with the Bears prior to the 2011 season.

The Jaguars' fourth-round pick in the 2007 NFL draft (No. 101 overall), Podlesh kicked in 59 games for Jacksonville and established a franchise record with a 39.2-yard net average in 2010.

The Jaguars made it known they wanted to re-sign Podlesh in free agency, but lost out to the Bears, who offered him a five-year, $10 million contract. Although Podlesh has gone on to flourish with the Bears, where he set a franchise single-season record last year with a 40.4-yard net punting average, he still has fond memories of his time in Jacksonville.

"It'll be exciting to go back," Podlesh said. "I have a lot of friends and family there. Unfortunately, my wife is unable to come because we're expecting our first child pretty soon, so I don't think she's going to be able to travel. Between her family and my family, who are also coming down because they're not too far away in Virginia, and my friends in town and on that team, it'll be fun going down there.

"It would have been cool for my wife to have been down there to see her family who lives right outside Jacksonville and to watch me get back on the field I used to play on for four years, but safety for her and the kid are No. 1."

Podlesh's second season in Chicago got off to a rough start when he injured his left hip flexor in the team's second exhibition game which forced him to miss the remainder of the preseason. However, Podlesh did make it back from the injury in time to start the regular season, and after four weeks looks to be close to regaining his old form.

Podlesh dropped two of his three punts inside the 20-yard line and booted the other 53 yards in the Bears' victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.

"He's getting better each week," Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "I've seen signs in practice, he's starting to bang the ball with a little more power. We're looking for a good week this week from him.

"It's always big when you go back (to face your old team) as a player, or even when you go back as a coach. It always gives you a little extra motivation."