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LAKE FOREST — Kellen Davis came back to the Bears so he could begin to prove he is one of the elite tight ends in the league by becoming more of a threat in the passing game.
So far, that hasn’t panned out as he has just one catch in the first two games. But, with all the weapons on this year’s offense, Davis believes his time will come — he just has to wait his turn.
“Obviously, we hope for our role to expand a little bit moving forward. We just want to go out and make plays to help Jay (Cutler) and this offense, for the most part,” Davis said this week. “But this year’s team has a lot of guys who can make plays, and a lot of options. It’s all about doing your job, and being ready when they call your number.”
Davis, who signed a new two-year deal to stay in Chicago in the offseason, had 18 receptions for 206 yards and five touchdowns as the fulltime starter last year. But he had doubts about returning to the Bears when he became a free agent, and said he re-signed with the team only after he was sure Mike Martz was no longer the offensive coordinator, and so he could “have more opportunities in the pass game.”
Then he was targeted just once in the opener, and has just one catch on the year. It was a 21-yard touchdown grab, and was the Bears’ only TD in a 23-10 loss to Green Bay last week, but that’s been it for Davis. The team’s other tight ends (Matt Spaeth and Kyle Adams) also have one catch apiece, for 21 combined yards, through two games.
The biggest reason for their low numbers is because of the team’s lack of confidence in the offensive line.
“We are in for a lot of protections; we have a lot of protections that are max protections right now just so Jay (Cutler) can have time to get rid of the ball,” Davis said. “We’ve got at least three guys on the outside that can make plays, so we’ve just got to give him the time he needs. Obviously, everybody is important in that; everybody on the line for sure.”
And although the line play did not look like it was ready to be on its own — even in max protect much of the way, Cutler was sacked seven times last week — Davis still feels like he and the other tight ends will get plenty of passes thrown their way in the near future.
He compared himself to a chess piece, one that could come into play in a key situation at any moment. He’s not worried about the fact that he caught only one of the six balls thrown his way against the Packers, or that he’s been used a blocker on nearly 90 percent of the pass plays called so far.
“We game plan for the team we’re playing, and any day it could happen. If we’re going to be needed in blocking, that’s what we’re going to do. If they need us out there catching passes, that’s what we’re going to do,” Davis said. “There’s going to be games where I get to get out there more and I get more balls. But it really doesn’t matter what I’m doing personally if we’re not winning football games. That’s the bottom line for me. I’ll do what I’ve got to do.”
Cutler seems to agree, on both subjects: It doesn’t matter who gets receptions, it’s all about the wins; and that Davis and the tight ends could step up on any given Sunday (or Thursday or Monday), including this week.
“You never know what’s going to happen week to week, defense to defense. They (the Rams) don’t show a lot of that coverage (that the Packers used), but it doesn’t mean they can’t put it in,” Cutler said. “They’re going to try to stop the run, (Jeff) Fisher’s always tried to do that, so we’ll see how they play us.” Jay Taft: 815-987-1384; email@example.com; @jaytaft