(CBS) As one of the veterans in the Bears’ locker room, tight end Zach Miller is well aware of the perception his team has received entering Week 1 of this new season.
The Bears aren’t expected to be anything much in 2017, a year removed from a 3-13 campaign. There are a lot of questions about the Bears as the season opener against the Falcons awaits Sunday. So do the Bears feel disrespected?
Miller knows the way respect works in the NFL.
“Respect is something you have to earn,” Miller said Tuesday in an interview with Mike Mulligan and David Haugh on 670 The Score. “We haven’t done much of that the last two years. That’s something you have to earn, and we’ll do that through our play. That’s kind of the only way you can do it. You can’t talk about it. You have to go out and do it.
“It’ll be a challenge for us. It always is. But that’s the way it goes. We’ll be excited. We got to answer the bell, though.”
The Bears face a difficult task in the opener against the Falcons, who let a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl slip away. The Bears know to expect a hungry team coming into Chicago.
After starting the last two seasons 0-3, the Bears have hopes of opening this year on a positive note.
“We’re well aware of the challenge,” Miller said. “The Falcons were a play or two away from being the defending world champions and not just the NFC champions. We’re aware of how good of a football team they are.
“They’re still a very good football team. Expectations aren’t that high for us, but that’s kind of the way underdogs kind of like it. Come out and play the game.”
Miller is part of a position group with four tight ends on the active roster after cuts were finalized this past weekend. The hope is that the tight ends can help with an offense lacking at receiver. The Bears will be a run-oriented team, coach John Fox said Monday, but concerns to this offense begin with the passing game.
The Bears hope a strong defense and sound offense can lead the way to victories.
“Our defense is going to be way better than it has been in the past,” Miller said. “Those guys have been together for a while, got some pieces in place. I expect our defense to help us out a lot.
“For us on offense, it’s going to be running the ball, take care of the ball, be efficient and then when the timing is right, throw it over the top to make some plays.”