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Emery cites need for tight end upgrade
By Brad Biggs, Tribune reporter
12:55 PM CST, January 1, 2013
Phil Emery isn’t going to give away his offseason personnel plans, but there was more than enough in the way of hints to figure the Chicago Bears will be in the market for a pass-catching tight end. For the second consecutive season, the Bears had the fewest receptions by the tight end position in the NFL and Kellen Davis was a considerable disappointment after returning on a $6 million, two-year contract. He finished with 19 receptions for 229 yards and two touchdowns after being a red-zone threat in previous seasons.
Emery talked about providing Jay Cutler with consistent playmakers in the middle of the field in what was somewhat of a defense of the quarterback who lacked a consistent target there this past season.
“I think the important thing is that we continue to build around him,” Emery said. “When I look at our team in the past and the team that I watched on tape and the team that I watched this fall, we’ve got to get better at the midfield area of making plays. Whether that is involving Matt Forte more and again I am going to be frank: Matt was brought back and I was excited about his signing because a big part of that is him as a pass receiver. For whatever reason, whether it was protection or whether it was utilization or whether it was catching, we didn’t utilize Matt or he didn’t have the opportunity to be fully utilized.”
Forte finished with a career-low 44 receptions but that was only eight off the number he had in 2011 and seven shy of the 51 he had in a big 2010 season. Yardage was down even more, though, as he averaged only 7.7 yards per catch, three yards off his career-best in 2010.
“Kellen had a rough year,” Emery said. “The Kellen Davis that I saw caught the ball in the end zone the previous year. High percentage of his total career catches, which were not that high, were end zone catches, reliable in that area. Has shown the ability, just for whatever reason hasn’t been able to be consistent. I know that is an area he is going to work on and he is capable of improving and I know he wants to improve.
“When you look at our other midfield target, Earl (Bennett) showed us his talent the last game. That catch and run (a 60-yard touchdown at Detroit on Sunday), I think everybody has a little more zip as fans, and I am one of them, give him credit for it. He took the ball around the seam and he was gone. There wasn’t anybody that was going to catch him.
“He has had numerous midfield catches in his career. Whether it was him not having a fast start because he had an ankle in camp, he missed a little preseason, or the concussion, I don’t know. But we need to get more consistency, playmaker and whether it is adding to the talent mix, I need to do a better job but we need to get more consistent in that midfield area to provide midfield targets for our quarterback because of the way, part of me telling you about these stats, the NFL today, you’re going to get pressure on the quarterback. You have to have him have reliable targets in all field areas if you’re going to solve that situation, not only improving our overall competitive mix of our offensive line.”
Davis could play a role for the Bears in 2013 but it’s obvious without even having to ask Emery that the position will likely be on the team’s need list. email@example.com