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updated: 8/20/2014 9:11 PM

Blocking Mulligan's forte, but he likes to catch and pass now and then

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Six-foot-4, 267-pound tight end Matthew Mulligan would be the first to say that his team-best 4 catches (for 39 yards) in the second preseason game against Jacksonville were an aberration.

Blocking is what he does, and he does it well enough to have played five years in the league.

Asked in jest after his 4-catch game if he was supposed to be the "blocking" tight end, Mulligan said, "I am, I was, I mean that's what my forte is. But, as a blocker, when you get a chance to catch passes, that's what you have to do. Just catch it and hold on.

"For me, honestly, when a pass is thrown my way, it's great. But I could care less because I know my job is to be physical and (block for) the run game."

In 65 games over five previous seasons, Mulligan has just 16 receptions. In fact, in his entire organized football-playing career, he's caught only 39 passes in regular-season games.

His high school, Penobscot Valley in Howland Maine, didn't field a football team so he played basketball, soccer, baseball, tennis and track and field. He played two years of football at Maine, went undrafted but signed with the Dolphins and spent most of the next two years on the practice squads of the Dolphins, Titans and Jets.

So, the catches are nice, but just being in the game is enough for Mulligan.

"Any opportunity you get in the NFL should be appreciated, whether it's blocking like I've done for the last seven years or whether it's playing special teams or catching a pass," he said. "They're all equally important, so any time you get any of those opportunities, you should seize them and do the best you can do with them."

Tough act to follow:

Brandon Hartson is the only long-snapper on the roster after his competition, Chad Rempel was waived Monday, but Hartson is not about to put it on cruise control.

"I can never relax," the 24-year-old Hartson said. "My job's never set in stone. Especially being a specialist, there's nothing set in stone. I have to keep on going, keep on being hungry. I can always get better in snapping punts, blocking for field goals. The only time I'll relax is if I finish the season."

If Hartson remains consistent through the final two preseason games, he will follow in the daunting footsteps of Patrick Mannelly, who performed the Bears' long-snapping duties with near perfection for the previous 16 years.

"High standards," Hartson said. "I respect him 100 percent. He's a great guy, he helped me out a lot, talked to me a little bit, showed me some techniques and everything. If I can just get one year, it would be awesome."

Health beat:

Right tackle Jordan Mills returned to practice for the first time since Aug. 5, when he injured the left foot that he had surgery on in the off-season.

Mills, who started 16 games as a rookie last season, participated in only individual drills, but he expects to be close to 100 percent and involved in 11-on-11 team activities when the Bears return to practice next Monday. He has not played in the preseason and isn't expected to face the Seahawks Friday night.

Safety Ryan Mundy (excused absence), cornerbacks Kyle Fuller (ankle) and Isaiah Frey (hamstring) and offensive linemen Brian de la Puente (knee) and Even Britton (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday.

Words to live by:

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had some good advice for Santonio Holmes or any other receiver trying to gain Jay Cutler's trust.

"Make every single catch in practice," Jeffery said.

Bears coach Marc Trestman said that he would like Holmes to play Friday night if he's up to speed in the offense, but no decision had been made by the end of Wednesday's practice.

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