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Thursday, May 6, 2010
Actually, TEs are welcome in Bears' offense

By Michael Wright

Greg Olsen
Greg Olsen will be a better blocker in 2010 -- new tight ends coach Mike DeBord guarantees it.
Four tight ends may not be too many for the 2010 Chicago Bears, according to new coach Mike DeBord, who discussed the possibility Thursday on “The Afternoon Saloon” on ESPN 1000.

While tight ends aren’t believed to be valued assets in the high-octane passing game of new offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s system, there appears to be a place on the roster for Greg Olsen, Brandon Manumaleuna, Kellen Davis and Desmond Clark, according to DeBord.

“We’re going to be open,” said DeBord, who was hired in February. “We’ve talked about [potentially keeping four tight ends] with [general manager] Jerry Angelo and personnel, and as a coaching staff, we’ve talked about numbers. We’re gonna keep the guys who play the best and can fit into that role, whatever we need. So we’re going to be very open to that.”

The blend of talent on the roster likely plays a major role in dictating that open-mindedness. Olsen poses a dangerous threat in the passing game. Manumaleuna has a reputation as a potentially dominating run blocker. Although young, Kellen Davis flashes potential as a receiver and blocker.

Clark, meanwhile, fits the role of savvy veteran. Such varying skill sets among the tight ends seem to be the reason why expectations for production at the position haven’t been definitively stated.

“That’s gonna vary a little bit depending on the player,” DeBord said. “You can move tight ends around everywhere. So we’re gonna move some guys around in different spots. I don’t know what those numbers will be.

“But as Mike [Martz] stated, he’s not really had that fast guy like Des[mond] Clark or Greg Olsen, those kinds of guys. So he’s actually excited about being able to utilize them in the [passing game] and run game. That’s the thing we’re trying to find out right now is what they can do best. We’re teaching the entire offense and just trying to find out what guys can do best.”

So it’s safe to count on the seemingly unsettled nature of the tight end position to play out throughout training camp and the preseason.

DeBord made clear in the interview on the “Afternoon Saloon” that he expects Olsen -- who has been widely scrutinized for his struggles as a blocker – to improve in that department. The coach even went as far as to say “I guarantee you he’s gonna get better at it.”

DeBord also expressed optimism about Davis’ prospects for development, saying that “what I’ve seen on film from him [last season] is that he did catch the ball well, but he also blocked well.” Asked whether he envisioned a role for Clark this season, DeBord said, “I believe so. He’s a great leader on this team. This is all gonna play out. But I really believe there will be a role for Desmond.”

Apparently, if you ask DeBord, seemingly every other tight end on the roster can expect the same.