Waiting for a Chance

The Bears are going to start the year with two veterans atop the depth chart at tight end. Starter Fred Baxter and backup John Davis are dependable players, but the team could have a playmaker on the sidelines.

Dustin Lyman has been mentioned as the tight end of the future since being drafted in the third-round of the 2000 draft, but has yet to live up to that billing.

Lyman has struggled to even to get on the field appearing in just 18 games over his first two seasons and was in danger of being cut when the Bears trimmed the roster to 53.

"I fully expected to make the roster," Lyman said. "I've been looking forward to contributing during the season."

"Going back throughout training camp I think that I stated a pretty strong case. I feel like I've been pretty consistent."

Lyman finished the preseason with four receptions for 36 yards. The numbers aren't overwhelming, but a catch against Miami in the preseason finale proved why the Bears kept him. Lyman made a nice adjustment on a ball that was thrown at his feet and went to the ground to catch the ball.

It can't be known if Baxter or Davis would have made the same grab, but there is no doubt Lyman is the biggest threat the Bears have at tight end. The question is can he block well enough to be an every down player.

"My blocking has gotten better because I have another year of experience," Lyman said. "It's something that has always come natural to me. It's a combination of technique and skill. I'm working on my technique everyday."

At 245 pounds Lyman might not be heavy enough to be able to handle the blocking duties of the Bears run oriented offense.

However, the Bears have to find out what he can do. The season opener isn't the time to experiment, but Lyman should be eased into the offense.

In his rookie year he started seven games, but took a step back last season as he was inactive for 12 games due in part to an ankle injury.

He will be a special teams contributor, but beyond that Lyman has doubt how much he will be involved in the offense.

"I really don't know how much I'm going to be playing and I don't know where I'm going to be playing," Lyman said.

Still, the 26-year-old remains confident all he needs is a chance.

"I really haven gotten a chance to get out there and prove myself. I have no doubt that if I do ever get that chance that I'll take it and run."

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