Quantity Over Quality

Tight end will be one highly contested position this summer in Bourbonnais. Veteran Fred Baxter will be competing with John Davis, Dustin Lyman, off-season acquisition Luther Broughton and sixth-round draft choice Bryan Fletcher.

Baxter will be entering his second season with the Bears. He aided the offensive line in their smash mouth mentality last season proving to be the Bears best blocking tight end. Baxter was successful in the red zone, but his inability to stretch the defense hurt his numbers. He finished the 2001 campaign with 22 receptions for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Although, Davis has been a productive tight end he has bounced around the league because of off the field problems. He played backup to Baxter, catching 12 balls for 76 yards and one score. There is a chance he won't make the team with the crop of younger tight ends looking to for playing time.

Lyman has the ability to be the best of the bunch but has yet to translate his potential to the field. He will be entering his third season after switching from linebacker in college. Lyman looked as if he turned the corner last year in the preseason opener against the Bengals. He had four receptions for 62 yards including a 31-yard reception, but turned his ankle on the same play. Lyman was missed the remainder of the preseason and the coaching staff lost confidence in the 25 year old. He saw limited game action, but didn't have a single reception.

Broughton was signed this off-season from Carolina, where he spent time with current Bears offensive coordinator John Shoop. Broughton is a very efficient blocker as an H-back much in the mold of Scott Dragos, who signed with New England this off-season.

At 6-5, 235 pounds Fletcher looks more like a receiver than a tight end. He has the ability to catch the ball, but he can't be any kind of blocker unless he puts on weight. At this point he might not make the squad because he is a one-dimensional player. Although, he could a good project for the practice squad he doesn't look to be ready for the NFL at this time.

No matter who occupies the position it will be imperative that the Bears begin to use the tight end position more in the passing game.


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