As we count down the final days to the start of Chicago Bears training camp, we’re doing a preview of all of the position groups. We’ll look at our projected starters, key backups, training camp battles as we review the additions and subtractions to the Bears roster over the offseason.
TODAY’S POSITION: TIGHT ENDS
Projected Starter: Martellus Bennett
Key Departures: Fendi Onobun?
Martellus Bennett made an instant impression on Chicago Bears fans on and off the field in his first season with the Beloved in 2013. His 65 catches for 759 yards were good for fourth and third on the team, but career highs for the 6 year pro. Bennett’s athleticism was on display making catches in tight windows and in his run after the catch, an impressive feat for someone his size. After getting out from behind Jason Witten in Dallas, Bennett’s arrow is pointing up and 2014 should build on his terrific 2013.
Behind Bennett, things get a little iffy. The Bears traded a late round draft pick for Dante Rosario to be a backup last season, but Rosario had only one catch. He played in about 17% of the offensive snaps. He was re-signed, cut and then re-signed again this offseason to work through some technicality in the rules. He’s back, but he’ll have to battle with some new faces to earn a roster spot.
The Bears added Matthew Mulligan, who last played with the New England Patriots. Mulligan isn’t necessarily a pass catching threat, used mostly as a blocker, but he’s more of a threat than Eben Britton.
The Bears also picked up Zach Miller. No, not the Seattle TE. This Zach Miller was drafted by the Jaguars in the 6th round of the 2009 draft, but hasn’t played since 2011. He was injured before the 2012 season and spent the season on IR. The Bucs picked him up in the 2013 offseason, but he was cut before the start of the season. He’ll try to bounce back and earn a roster spot, but it’ll be a tough battle.
Rounding out the cast of characters is former Raiders TE Jeron Mastrud. He’s entering his 5th season, but didn’t see much action until last season. Mastrud actually graded out pretty well on PFF’s TE rankings in his blocking, so he could be more of a threat than it would appear for someone who the Bears just picked up after OTA’s ended.