At his postseason press conference, Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith spoke highly of tight end Kellen Davis and lauded his potential.
"Kellen Davis can do anything the good tight ends in this league can do," Smith said in early January. "As a [pass] catcher, if we focus in on him, we can make him more of a guy that people are talking about just based on throwing him the ball more. So I think we have an excellent tight end with good speed, size. I think we had a combination of as good a tight end, the makings of, as anyone around in Kellen."
Davis (6-7, 267) caught just 18 passes for 206 yards last year. Yet that was a product of former offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who wasn't fond of using tight ends as pass catchers. In his system, tight ends block.
TE Kellen Davis
Yet despite his paltry reception numbers, Davis led the team with five touchdown receptions. In fact, of his 28 career catches, nine have gone for a score. That type of per-catch production shows his value in the red zone.
It's the reason the team signed him to a two-year, $6 million contract this afternoon. The deal includes a $2.7 million signing bonus.
Davis will now have ample opportunity to make good on Smith's prediction.
He was being courted by a number of teams the past day and a half, including the Bengals, Cowboys, and Steelers, but ultimately chose to return to the Windy City.
Davis did not show all that well as a blocker in 2011 but he did get better as the season progressed. Matt Spaeth is still on the roster and will likely take over the majority of the blocking duties, allowing Davis to stretch defenses down the seam.
Under new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, expect Davis to be used more as the vertical threat he's proven to be. We'll find out this season if Smith was on to something.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.