Israel Idonije returns to Bears

Israel Idonije applaudes a Seattle holding penalty with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter at Soldier Field Sunday, December 2, 2012. (H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)

Following one season with the division rival Lions, defensive lineman Israel Idonije is coming back to the Bears, the team announced.

Pro Football Talk first reported that the two sides agreed to terms on Tuesday. The one-year deal is likely worth the veteran minimum.

With the Lions last season, Idonije appeared in 15 games with zero starts and had seven tackles and 0.5 sacks. That was coming off a 48-tackle, 7.5-sack campaign with the Bears in 2012, when Idonije played in 16 games with 11 starts.

The 33-year-old Idonije has missed only two games in the past seven seasons. During his time with the Bears from 2004-12, he totaled 28.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and 15 passes defensed.

Idonije brings a good veteran presence to the locker room and also has the versatility that Phil Emery is seeking in next year’s defense. Idonije would slide inside on passing downs when with the Bears, and the player who did that last year — Corey Wootton — is a free agent.

The Bears now have Idonije, Trevor Scott and Austen Lane as the veterans who will be competing for roster spots behind newcomers Lamarr Houston and Willie Young at defensive end. David Bass, Cheta Ozougwu and Cornelius Washington are the returning players on the edge.

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