THEY’RE IN A TIGHT SPOT

Bears’ depth at po­si­tion to be tested with Miller out and Sims bat­tling ill­ness

Chicago Sun-Times - - BEARS BEAT - PA­TRICK FINLEY Email: pfin­ley@ sun­times. com

The Bears’ tight end room has a rule: if a player is ab­sent, you don’t sit in their seat. If they’re gone for a while, you move their seat to the side of the room so the oth­ers can stretch out.

The last week has fea­tured plenty of fur­ni­ture ar­rang­ing.

“We’ve been play­ing a lit­tle mu­si­cal chairs,” tight end Daniel Brown said.

Zach Miller was lost for the sea­son Oct. 21, when he dis­lo­cated his left knee. Dion Sims hasn’t prac­ticed in more than a week with what the Bears are call­ing an ill­ness. He has par­tic­i­pated in some of the meet­ings.

The Bears might only have their third, fourth and fifth tight ends avail­able Sun­day against the Pack­ers. Brown would be the se­nior man of the group — “It falls on my shoul­ders to be the calm dur­ing the storm,” the third- year player said — with rookie Adam Sha­heen and sec­ond- year player Ben Brau­necker, who was pro­moted from the prac­tice squad Tues­day, be­hind him.

Brown has one catch for nine yards this sea­son, and Sha­heen has one catch for a two- yard touch­down. Brau­necker hasn’t been on the ac­tive ros­ter, but caught four passes in 13 games last sea­son.

Coach John Fox re­fused to give specifics about Sims, who has nine catches and three drops on 18 tar­gets. Since sign­ing a three- year, $ 18 mil­lion deal in March, he has 113 re­ceiv­ing yards and a touch­down.

“We have a lot of op­tions,” p tions,” Fox said Thurs­day. “It’s com­mon m mon knowl­edge ple that un­der­stand we brought that up B Ben. we en. I have think Adam peoand we have Daniel Brown. We’ve lined up tack­les at that h hat po­si­tion be­fore. Those are all op­tions tions that re­ally ev­ery­body uses and we could look at that our­selves — just in case.”

Brown, who be­gan his ca­reer as a re­ceiver, spent the off­sea­son f fsea­son im­prov­ing his run- block­ing.

“I’d like to think it’s ’ s night and day from last year,” he s said. aid. “Just foot­foot­work. A lot of it’s tech­nique. e ech­nique. Good foot­work, good hand place­ment, p good hands.”

Sha­heen, mean­while, hi ile, feels more com­fort­able than he has since be­be­ing drafted in the sec­ond c cond round out of Di­vi­sion II Ash­land. an nd. The Bears have been pleased with t th his im­proved block­ing.

“Be­tween me and Dan, we’re ex­ex­pected to step up,” Brau­necker r rau­necker said. “As soon as Zach went ent e out — and you saw the re­play; ev­ery­one e very­one knew he was done, un­for­tu­nately nately n — since then, we knew it was g go­ing to be go time for us,” he said. d. . “Re­ally just try­ing to be on top of it i t this week.”

The Bears saw a fa­mil­iar am mil­iar face in their tight end room Wed­nes­day Wed­nes­day — but on a screen. Miller r FaceTimed from his hos­pi­tal bed.

“It seemed like he w was in good spir­its,” Sha­heen said. a id. “Can’t wait for him to get out u ut of the hos­pi­tal and get back k to his fam­ily at home. “I still owe him a rookoko

rm ie din­ner. When­ever he’s good enough, I’m m go­ing to have to take him out.”

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ patrick­fin­ley.

| GETTY IM­AGES

Daniel Brown ( right) will need to pro­vide lead­er­ship at the tight end po­si­tion n if Dion Sims ( ill­ness) isn’t avail­able against the Pack­ers.

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