Bears’ Zach Miller battling back, again

Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller, who has been very impressive in training camp to this point, is once again attempting to bounce back from a season-ending injury.

The 2013 preseason opener was highlighted by a stellar performance from tight end Zach Miller. The 30-year-old reeled in all six passes thrown his way for 68 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Unfortunately, he suffered a Lisfranc injury just one week later and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

This injury was not the first of Miller’s career. The 6-5 tight end started his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009, where he totaled 428 yards, 41 receptions and three touchdowns in his first two years with the team.

Yet Miller suffered his first season-ending injury after just four weeks into his third season. He sat out the remainder of 2011 and has not played in a regular-season game since.

With his history of yearly injuries, Miller is used to climbing back on the horse.

“It’s more of a mentality thing,” he said. “You just have to learn how to approach it and deal day in and day out with those things. I’ve just got to do what I’ve been doing. Stay within the main frame of my game and work on the things I’m weak at. The biggest thing for me is just staying healthy”.

Even after being placed in season-ending IR, Miller stayed around the team throughout last year rehabbing the injury at Halas Hall and furthering his chemistry with his teammates.

“I kind of leaned on all the veteran guys,” he said. “Obviously Martellus [Bennett], who was in my position group. Offensively you’ve got to look to Jay [Cutler], Brandon [Marshall], Matt [Forte], [Jermon] Bushrod, [Matt] Slauson, I mean I could name the entire team. We are a tight-nit group. I wanted to stick around, I wanted to be here in Chicago.”

When head coach John Fox met with the media after Saturday’s practice he was quick to remind everyone that this is a new coaching staff and many new players, which means that there will be many players getting reps with the first, second and third teams.

In competition with Miller for the primary backup spot behind starter Bennett is Dante Rosario, who was last year’s No. 2 tight end, as well as Bear Pascoe, Blake Annen and Chris Pantale.

Rosario has missed the start of camp for personal reasons but Pascoe has been right in the middle of the action and could provide value with his ability as a run blocker.

“We’ve got a lot of tight ends in the room and we are all working together to compete,” said Pascoe. “This team has got a lot of talent.”

Pascoe played alongside Bennett with the Giants in 2013, so there’s built-in chemistry between him and the Black Unicorn.

“It was brief, we only had him for one season but we worked well together there and hopefully we can just keep that going here,” said Pascoe.

With offensive coordinator Adam Gase expected to run the ball more this year, Pascoe’s presence could be an added value due to his blocking ability.

The veteran also spent time with safety Antrel Rolle, where they won a Super Bowl together in 2011 with the Giants.

When speaking about how his Super Bowl experience could help his teammates, he said, “I hope that I can give them the insight that was given to me when I was a young player.

“I’ve come in with an attitude that I’m going to come in and work as hard as I can to help us be a better team.”

The 28-year-old also has shown the ability to contribute on special teams. At Fresno State, he holds the team record for six blocked fields goals in his collegiate career.

Going into preseason, the depth behind Bennett may be the best it’s been since his arrival in Chicago and could get even better if competition truly breeds more success.

Aaron Leming has years of salary cap knowledge and has written for Rant Sports, Bears Draft On Tap, and Cover 32. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report.

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