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Tight ends still part of Bears' passing attack -- no, really
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff

Bears tight end Greg Olsen gets past Kamerion Wimbley of the Raiders during Saturday's pre-season game at Soldier Field.

 

Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

"Yeah, that was a misconception when we got here," Desmond Clark said of the lack of tight end usage in Mike Martz's offense.

 

George LeClaire | Staff Photographer, 2009

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Published: 8/25/2010 8:17 PM

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Tight end was supposed to be the forgotten position in Mike Martz's offense, but that hasn't been the case.

Traditionally, the tight end has been used primarily to block in Martz's scheme.

So, when 6-foot-2, 295-pound Brandon Manumaleuna was added in free agency, it appeared that the new coordinator had his tight end.

But it seems the death of the tight end spot in the Bears' passing game has been greatly exaggerated.

In just the first two preseason games, Greg Olsen, Desmond Clark and Kellen Davis all have caught passes for at least 18 yards.

"Yeah, that was a misconception when we got here," Clark said. "But the tight end's been used in this offense pretty effectively. And we'll have some things that we haven't shown yet that we'll do (in the regular season), so it's exciting.

"Any position in this offense - tight end, running back, receiver - you have to be excited to play in this offense because there are so many different ways he can get guys the ball and so many creative ways."

Martz didn't gain his reputation for being an offensive genius by ignoring or failing to utilize all the talent at his disposal.

"Obviously coach Martz is a very smart guy, and we have a great tight end group," Davis said. "So he uses us to the best of all of our abilities."

Since the start of training camp, Martz has been impressed with the entire tight end group, which also includes 6-8, 260-pound Richard Angulo.

"The tight ends probably had the best camp of all the guys on offense," Martz said. "I'm very pleased with that group."

Because Manumaleuna has been brought along slowly as he recovers from off-season knee surgery there have been more opportunities for Davis and the others.

"We're being a little bit careful with Brandon because he's still just a little bit sore," Martz said. "It gives us an opportunity to take Kellen and isolate him and get him some throws as you saw (Saturday against the Raiders).

"He stepped forward. That's what's so cool about the preseason.

"Unfortunately, when you're putting in an offense, you can't do more of it. But you get a chance to get guys in that position (where) they can make a play.

"So I'm very pleased with Kellen. I know what Brandon is. It affords us a lot of flexibility in how to use that whole group of tight ends."

Olsen was thrown to a team-high five times against the Raiders, and he caught 3 passes for 26 yards.

Clark didn't play with the first team, partly because he was filling in for Pat Mannelly as the long snapper, but the 12th-year veteran caught an 18-yard pass from rookie quarterback Dan LeFevour in the fourth quarter.

Last year the Bears had four tight ends on the opening-day roster, but the fourth, Michael Gaines, was cut after a month.

That position has more talent this year, so the competition is intense.

"I've been saying that since I got here," said Davis, a fifth-round pick in 2008. "It's always been me, Greg and Dez, and now we've got two new guys who are helping us and doing well themselves.

"But it's just like everything else. When a guy's pushing you, it makes you work harder and try to do better, so we're all stepping up our games."

And they're making sure Martz doesn't forget about the tight end position.