Rookie tight end Evan Rodriguez’s value is his versatility
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org August 29, 2012 9:24PM
Evan Rodriguez, Blake Costanzo
Updated: October 1, 2012 5:30PM
Evan Rodriguez still is trying to find his place with the Bears.
Through three preseason games, the rookie has played on special teams, as an H-back and at his natural position of tight end.
During the long training-camp days in Bourbonnais, however, he played the role of a mismatch for the defense because of how well he caught the ball and moved in space in the team drills.
Those are strengths that the 23-year-old is not shy to talk about.
“I feel like with my athleticism, you can basically put me up against anyone and it will be a mismatch for the defense,’’ Rodriguez said. “I think I’m a guy that can put defenses in tight situations. I think I’m fast enough to be a tough match for linebackers and stronger than a lot of DBs, so it’s like pick your poison. That’s the way I look at it.’’
All that matters is how the Bears look at it.
The fourth-round pick out of Temple is battling Kyle Adams for the third tight-end spot on the depth chart behind Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth.
The question becomes whether Rodriguez can be the No. 1 tight end of the future in a league trending toward turning tight ends into playmakers?
The Bears are more likely to hand over the game plan for the Week 2 game against the Green Bay Packers than answer big-picture questions like that.
“I think Kellen, Matt, Kyle, Evan, they’re all promising, so we just have to figure out how to use four tight ends,’’ quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said. “It’s a good problem to have.’’
But one glance at the unit and it’s easy to see that Rodriguez is different from the others. Davis and Spaeth are 6-7 and lumber down the field. Adams is a more prototypical 6-4. Rodriguez is listed at 6-2 but is closer to 6-1. Speed-wise, he runs like a receiver.
“I would definitely say I’m more of an athletic, speed guy, but at the same time, I’m still a blocker,’’ he said. “I’ve got to have that mentality that you can’t be a one-hit wonder in this league. Basically, I have to be able to block and at the same time use my versatility to my advantage.’’
So how will the Bears use that versatility this season? Rodriguez is hoping his ability to play multiple positions will lead to bigger opportunities.
“Just trying to find a spot,’’ he added. “Like I said, I’m versatile, so that basically gives me more value and allows me to show them what I can do.’’