Kellen Davis, Dawan Landry
Updated: November 20, 2012 11:11AM
When the Bears traded Greg Olsen during the 2011 offseason, they expected Kellen Davis, with his size and athleticism, to fill the void as the pass-catching tight end.
He scored five touchdowns — the same as Olsen in 2010 — but only had 18 receptions for 206 yards last season.
Davis, however, has put together the strongest back-to-back performances of his NFL career with five catches for 88 yards over the last two games.
“I’m feeling good,” Davis said. “Just trying to do the things that I’m asked to do so I can expand my role as much as I can and be as involved in the passing game as I can be.”
Frustrated with his role in former offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s offense, Davis nearly bolted via free agency in the offseason. He was encouraged when coach Lovie Smith elevated offensive line coach Mike Tice — a former NFL tight end — to replace Martz.
After a rough start with a couple of drops, Davis has been reliable during the Bears’ three-game winning streak. For the season, Davis has eight catches for 129 yards and one touchdown.
Tice wants to get Davis more involved.
“Kellen has worked extremely hard, and we’re trying to make sure we have some things for him each week in the passing game,” Tice said. “We think he’s a very good blocker. Big, strong and athletic and can run.
“Hopefully, his package and his production in the passing game will grow as we move forward. So we’re liking where he’s going.”
Davis admitted pass protection isn’t his forte, and that could be crucial against the Detroit Lions’ talented defensive line.
“I’m not the best pass blocker in the world,” he said, “but I’m doing my job.
“We’re going to have to do some different things and try to slow down their two outside guys who line up as wide as they do. That’s tough duty on the tackles or us if we’re out there. But we got some different things.’’
Davis also can be a weapon against the Lions’ ninth-ranked defense. The Lions held tight ends Brent Celek (Philadelphia Eagles) and Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings) to a combined six catches for 41 yards in the last two games. But in the two games before that, Vernon Davis (San Francisco 49ers) had five catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns, and Craig Stevens (Tennessee Titans) had five catches for 63 yards.
Davis wants to be a factor on Monday night and maintain his momentum.
“We’re going against a good front four,” he said, “and it’s going to be a big challenge. But we have to step up and do our job.”