Bears rookie Evan Rodriguez wants to play catch
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org November 17, 2012 7:44PM
Rookie Evan Rodriguez would like to be more involved in the Bears’ passing game at fullback or at tight end. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP
Updated: December 19, 2012 3:58PM
Don’t classify Bears rookie Evan Rodriguez just as a fullback.
“I’m just doing my job,” Rodriguez said. “Basically, it’s not classified what I completely am. It’s just whatever they put me at.”
Rodriguez would like more opportunities in the passing game, whether it’s coming out of the backfield or possibly lining up as a tight end, the position he was drafted at and excelled in at Temple.
It sounds as if Rodriguez will get his chance in some form Monday against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Bears have been looking for a receiver or tight end to step up and take some of the pressure off Brandon Marshall. Production from the Bears’ tight ends has come under scrutiny after Kellen Davis had a rough night against the Houston Texans.
“We’re going to see if we can get someone else the ball besides Brandon,” offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. “Hopefully, [Rodriguez is] one of the guys.”
Rodriguez called being a receiver “natural” for him and said he has learned to be patient while waiting for his chance to show it.
“You’ve got to work to get there,” said Rodriguez, a two-time All-Mid-American Conference selection at Temple. “Basically, I’m at that stage.”
Rodriguez’s playing time increased the last two games after he missed two games with a sprained MCL and didn’t play against the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers despite being active.
“He’s been working his way back,” Tice said. “His reps have increased the last three weeks. I see that as an encouraging sign, continuing to increase.”
Still, that primarily has been at fullback. But Tice said Rodriguez might see more time “as a football player” on Monday.
“We’re going to try to get in there and do some of the things he’s doing well as a rookie player,” Tice said.
Coach Lovie Smith said the Bears still will use a seven-man rotation on their defensive line despite defensive end Shea McClellin (concussion) being out. Smith named Cheta Ozougwu and Amobi Okoye as options Saturday.
“It’s not a big difference in some of our linemen,” Smith said. “We feel comfortable really playing most of them.”
Reserve defensive tackle Matt Toeaina isn’t available, though. “That calf is still giving him a little trouble,” Smith said.
◆ Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery should be active for the first time since Oct. 7. Jeffery, who missed the last four games with a broken hand, fully participated in practice Friday and Saturday.
◆ Quarterback Alex Smith (concussion) of the 49ers participated in practice for the fourth straight day and is likely to start.
But if QB Colin Kaepernick does play, Lovie Smith said their game plan doesn’t change.
“They’re still going to be a running football team, and the pass will be secondary,” he said.