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Tight ends Kellen Davis, Matt Spaeth like the Bears’ new offense

Tight end Kellen Davis caught only 18 passes last seasbut expects catch many more this season. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

Tight end Kellen Davis caught only 18 passes last season but expects to catch many more this season. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

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Updated: August 30, 2012 6:35AM



BOURBONNAIS — ‘‘The Gronk’’ is where the bar is set.

All the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski did last season was set tight-end records with 1,327 yards receiving and 17 touchdown catches. He then set a new pay standard by signing a six-year, $54 million contract during the offseason, the richest deal for a player at that position.

Is the NFL really a copycat league? The Bears’ Kellen Davis hopes so.

Gone is offensive coordinator Mike Martz and his tight-end-killing offense. Now Mike Tice has the steering wheel, and Davis and fellow tight end Matt Spaeth like what they see so far.

Through the first three practices, including the first one with pads Saturday, the tight ends are leading targets for Jay Cutler and the rest of the quarterbacks to look at.

‘‘It’s like apples and oranges,’’ Davis said of the switch from Martz to Tice. ‘‘It’s a totally different system, totally different offense with the game plan as far as the passing game. For me, it’s just looking at the opportunities I’m going to have, fit myself into the system.’’

But he knows he has a lot of work to do if he wants to reach Gronkowski territory. Davis caught 18 passes last season, five of them for touchdowns.

‘‘I definitely know I can do that,’’ Davis said. ‘‘I just need opportunities. Looking forward to getting those.

‘‘I was a professional in Martz’s system in that I tried to improve. Hopefully now I just get to show it a lot more.’’

Spaeth would be all for that, especially if the Bears are going to use multiple tight ends in a lot more formations.

‘‘I definitely think there will be opportunities for us to do some things,’’ Spaeth said. ‘‘Going through camp and into the preseason, this is where we find our identity. It’s on us, the whole tight-end group, to show what we can do.’’

Out of place?

There were a few times Saturday when first-round draft pick Shea McClellin looked the part of a defensive end. More often than not, though, he looked like a boy going against men.

So was it coincidence that coaches had him dropping back in coverage like a linebacker late in practice? McClellin wasn’t going to get caught up in that idea.

‘‘I’m used to that,’’ he said. ‘‘At Boise State, I played half-linebacker, half-defensive end, so I’m very used to dropping in coverage. It’s not a big deal.’’

Hester watch

Receiver/returner Devin Hester sat out practice with a minor ankle injury, but coach Lovie Smith said it wasn’t serious and expected him to be at practice Sunday.



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