Quantity Over Quality

If not quality, the Bears at least have quantity at tight end this off-season. After going without addressing the position in the draft, the team tried to find a diamond in the rough by signing two undrafted free agents.

Cooper Wallace and Tim Day have been added to the mix along with incumbent starter Desmond Clark and returning backups John Gilmore and Gabe Reid.

The Bears' No. 31 passing game could get a much-needed boost from the presence of a receiving threat at tight end, since that position accounted for just 28 receptions for 250 yards last season.

Wallace at Auburn, and Day at Oregon, were each good enough to start for three years in quality Division-I programs. But neither was deemed good enough to spend a draft choice on -- a sore subject for both.

"Obviously, for many years I've been thinking about getting drafted and having people talk about me and all that," the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Wallace said. "It's a pretty humbling experience. (But) it's probably better for me because I got to end up here."

Day, the same height and weight as Wallace, also appreciates the opportunity, considering the Bears' desire to upgrade the tight end position.

"It didn't work out for me being drafted," he said, "but being undrafted and coming here is great. I think it's the best place for me to come in and get some time and show my talents to the team."

Day's draft status dipped as a senior when he was underutilized in Gary Crowton's spread-option offense, catching just 25 passes for 215 yards (8.6-yard average) and one touchdown. He also wasn't asked to do much as an in-line blocker. And he had surgery in February of 2005 to relieve chronic tightness in his calves, which also didn't help his draft status.

"I think that's what really got me to drop," Day said of the surgery. "I'm just going to try to show everybody I can play without the injuries. I'm healthy right now. I ran faster and squatted more (after the surgery). It helped me a lot."

Day's strength is as a pass catcher. He caught 35 passes for 457 yards (13.1-yard average) and 8 touchdowns as a junior. But he has a reputation for being a little soft and lacking the toughness to be effective as a blocker, which the Bears require from their tight ends. Day doesn't agree with his critics.

"I think I'm a better blocker than people give me credit for," he said. "I think if you go back and look at my film, you can see that we were successful running the ball because they can get around the edge because I can block. It's just another thing that I have to go out and show and (then) people might believe me."

He isn't the consummate tight end all teams crave, but Day has a better opportunity than most undrafted rookies of making the final roster.

"We think we were lucky to get two players like that who weren't drafted," said Coach Lovie Smith. "We thought going in, especially Tim would get drafted. Of course he should have a heck of a shot of making our ball club here, so it could end up being good for both of us."

Wallace's blocking isn't outstanding either, but as a junior he helped clear the way for running backs Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown to become top five picks.

"The running backs were pretty good," Wallace admitted, "but we had a good o-line, and I was anchoring the end of it. We prided ourselves on the run game, so I think that was a big reason we were good. "I think blocking is more of a strength for me. I have to go a little more aggressively to the whistle, but I think it's something I could be good at."

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