Davis hoping to catch 40-60 passes

Lovie Smith comparing Kellen Davis to top tight ends may have figured into his return. MRQ/Icon SMI

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Five-year NFL veteran Kellen Davis believes the Chicago Bears' new tight end-friendly offense could allow him to triple the amount of receptions he made last season.

Thrust into a starting role last summer after the Bears traded Greg Olsen to Carolina on the eve of training camp, Davis posted 18 catches for 206 yards and five touchdowns in the Mike Martz offense which never featured the tight end position in the passing game.

But with Martz out of picture in favor of new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, Davis expects a dramatic increase in production.

"I'd like to have between 40-60 catches at least," Davis said. "I'm hoping to get out there and put some numbers up.'

"I think (the new offense) is really tailored more to (quarterback) Jay (Cutler). We're going to keep him clean so he can get the ball out of his hands a lot faster. It's tailored more to what he likes to do. That obviously makes him comfortable, so you know the routes are better for us, for me, at the tight end position. I get a lot of first reads on a lot of plays. So it's all looking good for me right now."

Wednesday marked the first time reporters could watch Davis function in the new offense after he sat out the previous two open organized team activities for "precautionary" reasons. Davis has a history of back problems which caused the tight end significant discomfort at times last year.

"Just precautionary (sitting out the workouts) ... just trying to get me back for the minicamp," Davis said. "It's OTAs, so it's not that big of a deal. I've been trying to get back but they've been keeping it quiet because they don't want me out here doing something and not being ready for minicamp. But I'm feeling pretty good."

The Bears drafted Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez in the fourth round and still have 6-7 Matt Spaeth on the roster, but the key figure at the position is Davis, this despite having only 28 career receptions.

However, Bears head coach Lovie Smith made it a point several times in the offseason to compare Davis to the dominant pass-catching tight ends across the NFL. So when it came time for Davis, who's original rookie contract expired after the 2011 season, to make a decision in free agency, he decided to spurn the advances of several other interested clubs and re-sign with the Bears for two-years, $6 million. No doubt Smith's comments, the removal of Martz and the installation of Tice helped Davis decide to stay in Chicago.

"I took a couple visits and had to do my part to see what was out there," Davis said. "But the Bears made a good offer so this is where I'm at. I've got the chance to be that guy here, so I'm going to take it."