Expect spirited fight at tight end for Bears

BOURBONNAIS - Bears tight end Zach Miller will be 33 before the season is halfway over, plus he's battling back from foot surgery, the latest in a long line of injuries that have been the down side of his roller-coaster career.

When healthy, the 6-foot-5, 243-pound Miller is a gifted receiver who's caught 81 passes for 925 yards and 9 touchdowns in two seasons with the Bears despite missing six games last season.

With competition from free-agent pickup Dion Sims, who's No. 1 on the depth chart, rookie Adam Shaheen and young veterans Daniel Brown, Ben Braunecker and MyCole Pruitt, a spirited fight for playing time and roster spots is expected.

That's great as far as Miller is concerned.

"I'm playing in The National Football League, and people call it a job?" Miller said. "How can you get any (more) fun than that. As a youngster, (people ask), 'What do you want to be?'

"Probably 90 percent of them want to be professional something, and I get to live that dream out on a daily basis. So I'll do it until the wheels fall off, or 'til they kick me out of here."

Long road back:

Former 2014 first-round draft pick Kyle Fuller was mostly a forgotten man last year, and even when the 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback's name came up, it wasn't in a positive way.

A preseason knee scope wound up shelving him for the entire 2016 season, as doubts about his toughness and commitment snowballed the longer he sat.

The team did not pick up his fifth-year option in the off-season, so this is a make-or-break season for him with the Bears.

But, with free-agent pickup and presumed starter Marcus Cooper being given some down time, Fuller has been getting some reps with the first team and looking better than he has in a long time.

"Last year was a tough year for him," coach John Fox said. "It was a tough year for everybody. There's frustration whenever you're hurt. But he's battled through that. He's healthier now. He's done some exercises to help strengthen (the knee). He's getting back into it.

"I like the way he's looked. It hasn't been bothersome. He wasn't able string too many days of practice together this time a year ago, whereas this year he's able to."

Keeping it real:

No one appeared less impressed with Jordan Howard's 1,313 rushing yards as a rookie in 2016 than the fifth-round pick himself.

And Howard still maintains the same even keel.

"The thing that was most impressive was watching Jordan and (how) that just happened before our eyes, as he started reeling off 100-yard games and getting the totals that he was getting" Fox said.

"His humility and his ability to stay humble was pretty impressive, really beyond his years."

Back to work:

After Tuesday's day off, the Bears return to the practice field at 11 a.m. Wednesday, and Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton is expected back from paternity leave for the first time since camp began.

With top backup guard Eric Kush out recently with a hamstring injury, Tom Compton and Will Poehls have taken reps with the first team.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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