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Bears Notes: Arrest could be costly for Melton

PHILADELPHIA – The Bears awoke Sunday hoping to make a statement.

Not this kind of statement.

“We are aware of the reports regarding Henry Melton,” the Bears announced in a news release Sunday before their game against the Philadelphia Eagles. “We are currently gathering information to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the arrest.”

Melton, 27, was charged with assault and public intoxication early Sunday after police said he refused to leave a bar and fought with employees in his hometown of Grapevine, Texas. Police said the Bears’ 295-pound defensive tackle needed to be restrained by four bar employees after allegedly punching a manager and biting his arm. Melton later was freed on $1,210 bond.

Regardless of what happens next, the incident could cost the soon-to-be free agent.

The Bears used the franchise tag this summer to re-sign Melton to a one-year deal for about $8.5 million, but he started only three games before he tore his left ACL on Sept. 22 against Pittsburgh. The injury delivered an abrupt end to an important season for Melton, who reached his first Pro Bowl in 2012 and was eyeing a big-money contract after this season.

Going forward, could teams consider Melton to be a character risk as well as an injury risk?

It’s possible, but far from certain that Melton would re-sign with the Bears. They could have more than $40 million in salary-cap space but must fill dozens of roster spots in addition to deciding whether to bring back Jay Cutler, who could cost more than $16 million with the franchise tag.

Double nickels: As expected, Lance Briggs returned to his familiar starting position as the Bears’ weak-side linebacker after missing the past seven games because of a shoulder injury.

The Bears went 4-3 without Briggs in the starting lineup, although their defense had little to do with the winning record. With rookie fourth-round draft pick Khaseem Greene starting in place of Briggs, the Bears were gashed for at least 170 rushing yards in five out of seven games.

Briggs started alongside fellow linebackers Jon Bostic and James Anderson for only the second time this season. Earlier this season, Briggs started four games alongside D.J. Williams and Anderson.

Ball hogs: It was one small step for a kickoff return unit, one giant leap for Bears-kind.

For the first time this season, the Bears won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. The Bears had deferred all seven previous times this season in which they won the coin toss.

Coach Marc Trestman was not rewarded for venturing beyond his comfort zone. Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff to the 19-yard line, and the Bears’ offense promptly went three and out.

• The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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