Struggling Bears offense looking at options for impact at TE

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Struggling Bears offense looking at options for impact at TE

A plan for the 2012 Bears offense was for dramatically more impact from the tight end position after that group was relegated to insignificance by Mike Martz, best reflected in the trading away of Greg Olsen.

(Not that anyone is keeping score but Olsen has 43 catches for the Carolina Panthers, more than double the combined total (18) of all Bears tight ends.)

The organization voted with its checkbook on Kellen Davis; 2.7 million signing bonus in a two-year package totaling 6 million. Davis is due a 2014 base salary of 2.4 million and at this point it is problematic whether the Bears consider a tight end with only 11 catches and significant drops through the teams first nine games.

He has seen a substantial negative rating by analysts for ProFootballFocus.com in five of the Bears nine games, allowing two sacks on Jay Cutler in addition to drawing four penalties.

Davis is the 55th-ranked tight end, according to PFF, with five drops, a key lost fumble on the Bears first play in the Houston game, and 55th in percent of catches from passes thrown (42.3).

But that seems like everything, said coordinator Mike Tice, refusing to lay an over-sized share of the blame for the offensive problems on Davis or any one player or area.

It seems like its me, its the players, it seems like were trying to get this thing going and were trying to play with some consistency. We havent achieved that so its frustrating all the way around.

But the Bears have edged away from the vertical schememindset of Martz and toward a West Coast controlled approach with Tice and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who worked in that system with Denver and Seattle.

The latter system utilizes the tight end for considerably more than just blocking.

The Bears invested their fourth-round draft choice this year in Evan Rodriguez, a pass-catching tight end from Temple. Rodriguez was the first of the Bears rookie class to win a starting job, opening the season at fullback, however.

He missed four games with a knee injury and now is expected to integrate more receiving and route-running into his job description.

Its not too difficult because I was in the tight-ends room earlier this year, Rodriguez said. I have a good feel for whats going on.

Kyle Adams was targeted for his third catch of the season last game with Jason Campbell, more inclined than Cutler to use tight ends in check downs.

Carlos Rodon plays catch but timeline for return still uncertain

Carlos Rodon plays catch but timeline for return still uncertain

Carlos Rodon played catch in front of Don Cooper on Monday afternoon but only added to the intrigue surrounding his health when he declined to talk to the media.

On the 10-day disabled list with a biceps strain, the White Sox said Rodon continues to make progress in his rehab program. Cooper said the third-year pitcher felt and looked fine as he played catch in left field. But neither he nor manager Rick Renteria offered many more details on when Rodon may return or even when he could throw off a mound.

"He looked like he played catch good," Cooper said. "His throwing program is progressing. He felt fine. He threw the ball fine. That's kind of where we are at. He threw fine and move on to the next."

Rodon is in town for several days to be observed by the White Sox. On Friday, general manager Rick Hahn described the visit as a "routine follow-up visit." But other than making sure they're cautious with Rodon, the club hasn't been able to offer a specific timetable for their prized pitcher.

"I can't tell you in detail what the program is," Renteria said. "I know it involves throwing and making sure he's getting treatments and making sure it's taken care of, the issue he had with his biceps. We know it's getting better."

But the improvement hasn't made the situation any easier to deal with. When they started him on a delayed program this spring, the White Sox had Rodon pegged for 33 starts and 200 innings. As of now, there's no certainty when he'll make his first turn and the calendar is nearing May.

"He's frustrated," Cooper said. "He wants to get through this, through all of it. We are just there to try to make sure he's doing things right and there's progression.

"Well, I mean we've already taken a lot of caution. He's important to us now and in the future. We wouldn't rush with him or anybody."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can Bulls bounce back against Celtics?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can Bulls bounce back against Celtics?

In the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, CSN's David Kaplan is joined by the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh and the Chicago Sun-Times' Adam Jahns to discuss the Bulls falling to a 2-2 series tie with the Celtics.

The guys predict how the first-round playoff series will end and talk about how Isaiah Canaan will fare as the starting point guard in Game 5.

Then, the panel discusses whether Matt Davidson should be in the White Sox lineup more and who will still be playing on the South Side when the White Sox rebuild is done.

Finally, the panel discusses a couple of contract extensions for Pat Fitzgerald and Chris Collins at Northwestern.

Take a listen to the episode below: