Bears place Robbie Gould on IR

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears placed kicker Robbie Gould on injured reserve because of a calf injury suffered Sunday at Minnesota, and used his roster spot to sign veteran Olindo Mare.

"The injury put us in a situation where we didn't know exactly when I could come back, so the decision was made to put me on injured reserve and bring in another experienced kicker," Gould said. "That was the best call for the team. I spoke with Lovie Smith and Phil Emery about it, and we were all on the same page. Whatever can help this team win a Super Bowl, that's what I want to see happen. These guys are working too hard for me to be selfish about this whole thing. It's tough for me personally, but for the team, that's the decision that had to be made."

Gould injured the calf muscle during pregame warmups in the Metrodome before the Bears' 21-14 loss to the Vikings. The injury forced the Bears to use punter Adam Podlesh on kickoffs and prevented the team from attempting any field goals, although Gould did kick a pair of extra points and attempt an onside kick at the end of the game.

"It happened on a 53-yard field goal during warmups," Gould said. "Something just felt off. Something was wrong. That's when I strained the muscle. So basically, we decided that I could one-step kicks throughout the game, which is why I kicked the extra points. But because of that limitation, we felt the best course of action was to have Podlesh do the kickoffs. He did a great job the entire game with both the kickoffs and his punts. He really stepped up for us."

Gould already has begun the rehab process this week and expects to be at full strength by the time the Bears' offseason program rolls around. Gould is not expected to undergo surgery but is scheduled to get a second opinion later in the week.

In the meantime, Gould thinks the Bears are in good hands with Mare, a 15-year NFL veteran who kicked last year for the Panthers. Mare has made 350 of 431 career field-goal attempts (81.2 percent) and 480-of-486 extra points.

"The Bears got an excellent kicker that has kicked in tough conditions all across the NFL," Gould said. "He's a great guy, and a great kicker, who I know is really going to fit into that locker room, especially from a personality standpoint. But I believe athletically, he still has plenty left in the tank. I'm happy he's on the team and I hope he helps them get to a Super Bowl."

Gould connected on 21-of-25 field goals and scored a team-high 96 points this season. One of the most accurate kickers in league history, Gould has one year left on the five-year extension he signed during the 2008 offseason.

The Bears also placed Sherrick McManis on injured reserve because of a knee injury, in addition to adding safety Craig Steltz to that list with a chest injury.

The moves highlighted a day of roster activity that included signing linebacker Jerry Franklin to a two-year contract and activating practice squad receiver Joe Anderson. The Bears also waived veteran offensive lineman Andre Gurode, in addition to signing guard Chris Riley to the practice squad.

Franklin came into the NFL this season as an undrafted free agent with the Denver Broncos out of Arkansas, but has spent time on the practice squads of Carolina and Dallas. The Bears signed him Tuesday off the Cowboys' practice squad.

Sitting at 8-5 with a chance to earn a spot in postseason, the Bears find themselves shuffling the roster to deal with mounting injuries. Quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a neck injury in the loss to the Vikings, but his availability for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers isn't a concern at this point.

In back-to-back outings against the Vikings and Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, the Bears lost guard Lance Louis and linebacker Brian Urlacher. Urlacher is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a hamstring injury, but might be available to return for the playoffs.

The Bears had signed Gurode in the aftermath of the Louis injury.

Steltz suffered a right pectoral injury that might require surgery, according to a league source. He tried to keep playing after he was injured late in the second quarter, but eventually was ruled out for the remainder of the game and left the Metrodome with his right arm in a sling.

McManis is believed to have suffered a PCL injury, according to a source familiar with the situation.