Bears hire Kevin O'Dea as special teams assistant

The Chicago Bears moved quickly to replace assistant special teams coach Chris Tabor, hiring a familiar face.

Kevin O’Dea will return to the organization for his second tour on Lovie Smith’s staff in the same role he held in 2006 and 2007. Tabor was hired as the special teams coordinator for the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday, and the Bears had O’Dea hired within a matter of hours.

"I just got off the phone with Lovie and he made the comment, 'Kevin, you're not coming back, you're coming home,' " O'Dea said. "Any time someone makes a comment like that to you, that's pretty special."

O’Dea left the Bears to become the special teams coordinator for the New York Jets in 2008. He was replacing Mike Westhoff, who was leaving to tend to health matters related to his battles with cancer. On the final day of training camp, Westhoff returned and the Jets used both coaches. When O’Dea’s contract expired after the end of last season – after the Jets had gone to the AFC Championship Game – most of the jobs in the league had been filled. He spent last fall coaching special teams for the Hartford Colonials in the United Football League.

"When Dave (Toub) called he said, 'Do you want to get the old band back together?'" O'Dea said. "I said, 'You bet I do.' Once Tabes made the move to Cleveland, Toub said he went down to Lovie and Lovie said the same thing to him, they both had one guy in mind. That was good."

Barring something unexpected, the Bears will not have any other changes to their staff.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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