By Adam Hoge-
A panel of 14 Score hosts, reporters and producers ranked their top 10 players in terms of how important they will be in determining the success or failure of the 2013 Chicago Bears. We compiled the rankings into one master list and will unveil one of the 10 most important Bears each weekday as we countdown to training camp.
(CBS) As bad as the Bears’ offensive line was last season, you could argue their group of tight ends was even worse. In fact, there’s no debate that the Bears’ tight ends were the worst in the league as they combined for just 29 catches — the fewest in the NFL for the second straight season.
To fix that problem, general manager Phil Emery signed free agent tight end Martellus Bennett, who caught 55 passes and five touchdowns last year as a member of the New York Giants. Bennett is no slam dunk as he didn’t really breakout until he arrived in New York after four years in Dallas, but last year was the first time he was featured as a primary pass-catching tight end and that will be his exact role on the Bears this season.
Having a dynamic tight end to provide matchup problems is essential in today’s pass-happy NFL and it’s something the Bears have not had in a few years. Bennett figures to be featured heavily in Marc Trestman’s offense and as long as he possesses the ability to actually catch a football, he’ll be an upgrade over Kellen Davis, who was immediately cut along with Matt Spaeth following Bennett’s signing.
Bennett also happens to be a reliable blocker, a skill he improved in Dallas while Jason Witten received most of the passing targets. He takes pride in his blocking ability and after signing with the Bears, he told running back Matt Forte that he would help get him 1000 rushing yards this season.
Bennett might not be a Pro Bowler this season, but he’s an upgrade at tight end and the Bears need him to make an impact early to help Trestman’s offense take off.
The 10 Most Important Bears Panel: Dan Hampton, Hub Arkush, Zach Zaidman, Laurence Holmes, Matt Spiegel, Adam Hoge, Matt Abbatacola, Ben Finfer, Nick Shepkowski, Herb Lawrence, Joe Ostrowski, Chris Tannehill, Adam Harris and Dan Durkin.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.