Last year I started this preseason series off with the Tight End position due to the constant chatter about the new Mike Martz offense and it's treatment, or lack of treatment, of the tight ends. There were also plenty of Greg Olsen trade rumors flying around at that time. So now we fast forward a year, and there's still the same concern from fans about the tight end spot, and the Olsen to Carolina for a 3rd round pick (a move I had no problem with) has fans buzzing.
Mike Martz swung and missed on getting his type of TE in Chicago with the oft-criticized Brandon Manumaleuna. He reported flabby due to an injury, and he was never able to work himself into shape. Thankfully he's gone. This year Martz get's a do-over in free agent TE Matt Spaeth. Spaeth is a block first TE, but he has reliable hands. He won the 2006 John Mackey Award as college football's best tight end while at Minnesota. He isn't the athlete that Olsen is, but his blocking will be better than Manu.
As far as a receiving option at TE goes, the Bears still have Kellen Davis. I'm optimistic that Davis will give the Bears some of what Olsen did as a receiver. Davis is an improving blocker, much like Olsen was, but he's not what I would call a block first TE. He's a good athlete that could play both as an in-line TE and in the backfield as an H-Back. Davis may be just as fast as Olsen, so running him down the seam will be an option. And as of the first depth chart, Davis is listed #1.
The Bears surprisingly brought back Desmond Clark after a year of inactivity. Last year he couldn't get on the field because the coaches thought he was more a jack of all trades, master of none, and even though he was the best all around TE, the other players did certain things better. Now we all know that was poppycock, because Manu was a terrible football player, but that was their thinking then. I can still see Des as the odd man out, but I think he'll get a bit more playing time in 2011. He was brought back for some of the intangible stuff too.
Undrafted rookie free agents Andre Smith and Kyle Adams are potential practice squad players. NFLDraftscout.com had Smith rated as the 9th best TE in the '11 draft class and they called him one of the better blocking TEs available. Adams was rated 20th by the same site. They call him a possession receiver with good blocking skills. I doubt either sticks on the final 53.
Last season the Bears carried four tight end's all year, with the way the roster looks thus far, I don't see them doing that again this season.