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Saturday, August 10, 2013
The art of playing tight end in the NFL

By Mike Sando

After downplaying the Vernon Davis-as-wide-receiver angle, I ran across a comment from the tight end that invited another look.

"I've never had to spend as much time in the playbook as I have this training camp," Davis told ESPN's Jeff Chadiha. "I hope they're planning on using me at wide receiver because I've worked pretty hard learning to do it."

The comment suggested a level of personal investment sufficient for a meaningful change in Davis' role. However, I think we'll be best served viewing the situation in the context of Davis' professional development.

Davis, drafted sixth overall in 2006, struggled to learn the 49ers' ever-changing offenses early in his career. He is now entering a third season in the same system. He is finally in position to work on the finer points, which should include a more sophisticated understanding of pass routes. While Davis has worked with the wide receivers some, he has also worked with the offensive linemen. He should become a more well-rounded tight end, and as the video above demonstrates, he's got some other interests, too.

We should focus the TE-as-WR discussion more on the St. Louis Rams' Jared Cook, who last season made 36 of his 42 receptions from the slot. Cook is one of the more intriguing players in the division. The Rams committed $19 million in guaranteed money to him, tied with the payout to Jason Witten for third-highest among tight ends (Davis is at $23 million, ahead of Antonio Gates at $20.4 million).