LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- It might be a wise idea for the Bears to rediscover Greg Olsen.
As pointed out by our friend Kevin Seifert on ESPN.com's NFC North blog , Olsen ranks No. 26 among NFL tight ends with 18 catches.
Olsen -- targeted 34 times this season -- only has three receptions in the Bears' past three games, all coming versus Washington. At this current rate, Olsen is on pace to finish with roughly 41 catches, 19 fewer than last season, and 13 less than in 2008.
"We've had our moments where we've been able to make some plays," Olsen said Thursday. "Our times will come again. As we've said all along, this thing is a growing process, a lot of new pieces and a lot of new things are going on. Everyone is going to have their chance. As long as when those chances come, you make those plays, you just have to control what's in your hands."
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz frequently discussed the importance of properly utilizing Olsen in the preseason. Up to this point, it really hasn't happened, although Olsen did make several big plays earlier in the season versus Dallas and Green Bay.
But Olsen's perceived lack of productivity could be a direct result of opponents scheming to take the tight end out of the equation. Jay Cutler mentioned Buffalo -- now a 3-4 defense under new coordinator George Edwards -- possibly shifting to a 4-3 front when Olsen is on the field Sunday, which implies opposing teams are paying extra close attention to the former first-round pick out of Miami.
"He came back our last game, had three receptions and was targeted a lot to get the ball," Bears tight end coach Mike DeBord. "There were times in those other two games [Carolina and Seattle], when he didn't have receptions because coverage dictates where you are going to go with the ball.
"But we had a lot of things for him last game, and have a lot of things for him this game [Buffalo]. It just varies throughout the game."
The Bears desire to spread the wealth on offense is understandable, however, Olsen remains one of the most talented skill position players on the roster, but through seven games, ranks behind fellow NFC North tight ends Brandon Pettigrew (35), Tony Scheffler (26), Jermichael Finley (21) and Visanthe Shiancoe (20) in receptions.
"He's a competitor and obviously wants to win and wants the ball," DeBord said. "But he's also a good person and he understands [the lack of catches], so he's been good that way."