(a rare photograph of Bobby Wade in possession of the football)

From the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson.

Bobby Wade has fumbled or muffed his last punt for the Bears.

The team waived the former fifth-round pick and three-year veteran on Tuesday, two days after he put his eighth return on the ground and one day after Wade said he expected to return punts again this Sunday against Atlanta.

Wade, who also had two fumbles as a receiver, kept his job in other unlikely times. He mishandled two punts Sept. 25 against Cincinnati and three on Nov. 13 against San Francisco.

Coach Lovie Smith and special teams coordinator Dave Toub kept turning back to Wade, who broke a 73-yard touchdown in Week 2 against Detroit and tied for fifth league-wide with a 9.6-yard return average.

But beyond fumbles and muffs were Wade’s dubious decisions to field punts inside the 10-yard line.

Rashied Davis replaced Wade on Nov. 27 at Tampa, only to lose two returns the following Sunday against Green Bay. Those miscues gave Wade another chance, which proved his final one.

Though the Bears have an open roster spot, it appears they will fill the returner job from within. Davis, Eddie Berlin, Bernard Berrian and Nathan Vasher all have experience returning punts, although the latter two could be deemed too valuable on offense and defense, respectively, to risk injury.