BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- One reason the Chicago Bears deemed tight end Martellus Bennett expendable is the emergence of veteran Zach Miller, who posted career highs in starts (14), catches (34), receiving yards (439) and touchdowns (five) in a complimentary role last year.
"If you look back, he finished the season as the [main] tight end [when Bennett went on injured reserve]," coach John Fox said on Sunday. "He was our tight end at the conclusion of last season. So it's not new, not a new training ground. He finished as our starter at tight end last year, a guy who made some big plays. A lot was made of his durability, but he's worked very hard and he's having a very good camp so far."
Following the trade of Bennett to New England, the Bears re-upped Miller on a two-year deal with $3 million guaranteed - the only real significant move made at tight end in the offseason.
"I don't think anybody is going to put more pressure on me than myself to be that playmaker so I don't feel any added pressure at this point."
Miller's goal in camp is centered on refining certain skills in anticipation of playing a higher percentage of snaps in the fall.
"The thing that clearly I work on every year is the blocking stuff, run game, pass game," Miller said. "Just so I can be available on the football field more often. You always have to work on your weaknesses. But there are a ton of details that you have to dive into. But it's all marrying up your footwork, hand placement, all those things. It's a ton of different things I'm doing on a daily basis."
Miller isn't ready to set statistical goals, at least not publicly.
"We're on the same page," Miller said of Cutler. "Having an understanding timing wise, where I'm going to be, when I'm going to be there. It's something where we've been playing well together.
"The flow of the communication is that this is what I saw, what would you like me to do or did you see it another way? I can communicate with him timing-wise. For instance, the other day I felt like I cut a route kind of short and I expressed to him that maybe I take it two more steps. So it's an understanding of what he's looking at that I feel like I should be doing. Hopefully we keep on doing it."