Tight Competition

The tight end position has been a source of conversation around Halas Hall over for months. While Tim Day and Cooper Wallace would have preferred to be drafted, the situation in Chicago is tailor made for an undrafted free agent to make a run at the 53-man roster.

Day and Wallace both put up respectable numbers at major college programs. Day had 86 receptions for 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns for Oregon, while Wallace had 63 catches for 829 yards and 4 at Auburn

Considering 17 tight ends were taken in the draft why did Day and Wallace not join the group?

"Anytime a guy that you anticipate is going to be a mid or high draft choice and all of the sudden he doesn't get drafted you can almost count on the fact he has some sort of medical problem," director of college scouting Greg Gabriel said of Day, who has battled knee and calf injuries.

Day wanted to end up in Chicago because he saw an opportunity with the Bears. Not only does he have to prove his game can translate to the NFL level, but that he can stay on the field.

"Coming out here I'm just going to try to show everybody I can play without the injuries," Day said. "I'm healthy right now. I'm ready to come out and play."

As for Wallace, it could be a case of poor play at quarterback during his senior year that led to him going undrafted. Last year Auburn had three first rounds picks on offense in running backs Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown, but the loss of quarterback Jason Campbell hit Wallace the hardest.

Without a proven quarterback his numbers took a hit as a senior. Although he caught a career high 20 receptions, his average per catch dropped by 6.1 yards from the previous season.

"One of the good things about how we scout is that we're not scouting one year," Gabriel said. "We scout careers and the same guys hit the school year after year after year and we know what he was the year before."

Wallace is known for being a solid blocker, which is important in Ron Turner's run oriented offense.

"I think blocking is more of a strength for me," Wallace said. "I have to go a little more aggressive to the whistle, but I think it's something I could be good at."

With an upgrade in talent at tight end, Day and Wallace could help turn around a position that had little production in 2005. The trio of Desmond Clark, John Gilmore and Gabe Reid combined for 28 receptions for 250 yards and three touchdowns. The bulk of the numbers came from Clark, who had 24 catches for 229 yards and two scores.

"They're good tight ends, I don't know what everybody's talking about," said Wallace, who is quickly learning the art of political correctness.

Day and Wallace should provide competition on the lower portion of the depth chart with an opportunity to expand their roles with experience.

"We think we were lucky to get two players like that that weren't drafted," said Coach Lovie Smith.


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