THEY’RE IN A TIGHT SPOT
Bears’ depth at position to be tested with Miller out and Sims battling illness
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.”
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Daniel Brown ( right) will need to provide leadership at the tight end position n if Dion Sims ( illness) isn’t available against the Packers.