- Jeff Dickerson, Chicago Bears beat reporter
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The running joke on the sideline the first day of practice was that Jay Cutler kept misfiring passes to Kellen Davis because the quarterback hadn't been asked to throw the ball to a tight end in two years.
The hope is the offseason switch of offensive coordinators will lead to tight ends once again being contributors in the passing game, perhaps in a similar fashion to the way Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen were used when they combined to catch an average of 86 balls per year from 2007-09.
But with skill position players such as Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester already slated to be a large part of the offense, it might be unrealistic to expect huge numbers from the tight ends for the simple reason that quarterback Jay Cutler now has a variety of options on every single play.
"I think we will [be more featured in the passing game]," Bears tight end Matt Spaeth told ESPN 1000's 'Training Camp Tonight'. "It's tough to say early in training camp. We're still trying to find our identity as an offense and find out what kind of offense we are going to be. I think the tight end room, the group as a whole, is really good with a lot of good guys . Guys that can do different things.'
"One thing about our offense, we have a lot of different weapons, so there are never enough passes to go around for everybody because we have a lot of playmakers at receiver, tight end and running back. Nobody is ever really happy in the NFL because everybody wants the ball more but there are only so many balls to go around."
Taking that all into account, Davis should still top the 18 receptions for 206 yards he posted last year as should Spaeth who came to Chicago was the reputation as an accomplished blocker but flashed good hands and ran solid routes during offseason workouts.
The wildcard could be fourth-round pick Evan Rodriguez who's made noticeable strides since he struggled a the initial rookie minicamp a few weeks after the draft. Second-year man Kyle Adams hauled in his share of impressive catches during OTAs and minicamp and is once again fighting to earn a spot on the Bears final 53-man roster.
Will there be more opportunities for tight ends in the Bears' offense?