Lovie: Davis can be featured TE

In an age of tight ends emerging as top receiveres, Kellen Davis has retained the faith of Lovie Smith. AP Photo/Rick Osentoski

INDIANAPOLIS -- After watching the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis, Jimmy Graham and Aaron Hernandez explode in the 2011 NFL postseason, Bears head coach Lovie Smith remains sold on Kellen Davis, even though the unrestricted free agent caught just 18 passes for 206 yards and five touchdowns last season after the Bears traded Greg Olsen to the Carolina Panthers.

"I think if you want to feature Kellen Davis you can do that," Smith said Thursday. "Great size, great in-line blocker, skilled enough of an athlete to be able to move outside and do some things. I really like him."

Smith is no stranger to productivity at the tight end position. From 2007-2009, Olsen and veteran Desmond Clark averaged a combined 87 catches for 883 yards per season. But that was before Smith hired Mike Martz to be the club's offensive coordinator, a move that diminished the importance of the tight end in the Bears' passing game.

The end result of Martz's vision: a combined 25 catches for 256 yards from Davis and blocking tight end Matt Spaeth in 2011.

Smith sounded as if the Bears offensive philosophy regarding the tight end is about to change under new coordinator Mike Tice.

"I would say that all eight years I've been here the tight end needs to be a big part of what we do," Smith said. "We plan on doing that. And as far as coming out this year, there are only so many receivers you can throw the ball to. You can choose to make it your wide receiver. Or you can make it your running back or your tight end. But there are only so many guys, there are only so many passes to go around. You have to be smart with how you distribute those."