The Competition at Tight End and Other Points of View
- Terry (*cough*Tank*cough*) Johnson seems to have grown up quite a bit since he was a Bear. From Darin Gantt at profootballtalk.com.
- Speaking of former Bears, Tommy Harris is set up to own a new FXFL team. Via Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com.
- Gantt also has some opinions about new Bears safety Arian Wilson:
“The Bears aren’t loaded at the position, but Wilson was beginning to look like a situational player before the [Achilles tear].”
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune gives me more fodder for this blog by answering your questions. He’s got some interesting opinions about the competition at tight end:
With the release of Fendi Onubun, who is the favorite to back up Martellus Bennett at tight end? – Big D., Chicago, from email
Following the release of Onobun at the conclusion of minicamp last Thursday, the Bears added Jeron Mastrud to the 90-man roster, giving them five tight ends for training camp. That means four players will be vying for what will likely be two spots on the 53 behind starter Martellus Bennett. Dante Rosario, Matthew Mulligan and Zach Miller have been with the team since the start of the offseason. I can tell you that internally at Halas Hall the club feels better about the depth it has than the public does right now. Mulligan is an interesting player. He’s entering his sixth season and has good experience, appearing in 60 games over the last four seasons with the Patriots, Rams, Jets. At 6-4, 267 pounds, he runs better than the Bears expected and it will be interesting to watch him when the pads go on in training camp. He’s primarily a blocking tight end and if he moves better than former tight ends Matt Spaeth and Kellen Davis, I think there is probably a spot on the roster for him. Rosario is in a better position this year too after the Bears traded for him during Week 1 a year ago. He was trying to learn on the fly as the Bears put him into action. Rosario had 182 snaps on offense (17.2 percent) and 352 snaps on special teams, which ranked second on the roster behind only linebacker Blake Costanzo.
“‘I have had more time to spend learning the ends and outs of the offense and everything else and special teams,’ Rosario said last week. ‘Not just that but getting to know the guys better and building a relationship. Kind of makes you feel like you fit in a little bit more.’”
First, I think “Big D.” has a pretty high opinion of Fendi Onobun if he thinks he was the favorite to back up Bennett before being released.
Like Biggs, I like Matthew Mulligan’s chances. His specialty with the Rams and Jets was as what amounted to an extra lineman in running situations, a position that Ebon Britton played last year. Britton is now listed on the Bears website as a guard and its obvious that the Bears have plans for Mulligan to fill that role this year. If he can catch just the occasional pass he’ll be an upgrade.
- Biggs also tells us why the Bears weren’t interested in bringing linebacker James Anderson back:
“Why didn’t Bears re-sign James Anderson? The Packer fumble? Faith in Shea McClellin? Maybe Lance Briggs didn’t like him? What’s the reason? — @mattahrens from Twitter
“It wouldn’t be fair to place blame on any one player for the fumble that wasn’t picked up against the Packers and Briggs doesn’t make personnel decisions, he plays football. When the Bears signed Anderson last year, the scouting report I got on him after a solid career with the Panthers was that he had a tendency to wear down in the second half of the season. I think we saw that play out last year with the Bears. Anderson, 30, was steady in the first half of the season and not as good as the schedule reached November and December. When you consider draft picks like McClellin as well as Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene, yeah, the Bears need to see if they can get on the field and stick. It wasn’t surprising to me the Bears did not pursue Anderson in free agency. There are bigger pieces they need to replace on defense.”
- Biggs also answers a question about why guard Kyle Long isn’t being moved to tackle. I won’t bore you with a repetition of the “strength up the middle” philosophy of offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer except to say that Biggs reiterates it. However, this portion about why Brain de la Puente won’t be starting at center any time soon was new and to the point:
“I also think you probably overrate de la Puente. He was a free agent and got little to no interest as a starter on the open market with the Saints actively working to replace him. That is what led him to take a backup job with the Bears on a one-year deal.”
I understand why fans might overestimate de la Puente. But they have to understand that de la Puente has serious problems blocking the run. The Bears are likely hoping that Kromer, his former line coach, will bring out the best in him. But he’s not a better center than Roberto Garza right now.
- Former Viking great John Randle has some advice for rookie defensive tackle Will Sutton:. Via John Mullin:
“‘[Sutton] should start a book,’ Randle told CSNChicago.com recently at the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s ‘Chicago Salute to Greatness’ at the Glen Club in Glenview. ‘You’re ‘profiling’ guys, ‘stalking’ them. I gotta know [an opponent’s] strengths and his weaknesses.
“‘I kept a book, an actual book, of what I did with a guy, what worked, what didn’t. I knew people thought of me as a fast guy, so first play of the game, I’d line up wide and then bull rush. Next play, maybe stutter-step but then bull-rush again. Then maybe ‘hump[-move]’ him like Reggie White.’
“Then Randle laughed. ‘And then the next time, maybe I start raving about his kids or him being such a good dad. Keep ‘em off balance.’”
- Florio on the move of Rams first round draft pick Greg Robinson inside to guard:
“Robinson’s struggles aren’t a complete surprise to league insiders who had their doubts about Robinson’s ability to be dominant at the next level. Robinson’s reference to the intensity of the playbook won’t surprise skeptics, either, given that Robinson dealt with a limited range of plays and protections at Auburn. It makes the Rams’ risk even bigger, especially since they’ve moved Robinson to a position that typically doesn’t demand a top-five draft pedigree.”
Let’s also not forget that he’s also facing one of the best front 7’s in the game i practice, albeit only in minicamp.
One Final Thought
- Soldier Field has always had competition for the wort field in football from Pittsburgh. This won’t help them:
“Last summer a Kenny Chesney concert made a mess at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, with fights, arrests and trash all over the place.
“This summer the home of the Steelers has again hosted a concert. And the only thing different this year is that it was Luke Bryan instead of Kenny Chesney.
“But those numbers don’t tell the whole story. For a fuller picture, look at the video taken of the trash, drunkenness and debauchery. Last year, the Steelers weren’t happy about some of the fallout from the Chesney concert, which the team thought painted Heinz Field in a negative light. The Steelers probably won’t be happy about this morning’s mess, either.”
Be sure and take a look at that video. These hillbillies are a piece of work.