With Martz now in charge, TE Olsen has no worries

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Tight end Greg Olsen says he's confident he will play a big role in Mike Martz's new offense with the Bears.

      Tight end Greg Olsen says he's confident he will play a big role in Mike Martz's new offense with the Bears. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Published6/3/2010 10:33 AM

About the only person not making a big deal about tight end Greg Olsen's role in Mike Martz's offense is Olsen himself.

Olsen led the Bears last season with 60 receptions and 8 touchdowns, but Martz's offenses have rarely utilized the tight end to that extent.

 

In Martz's seven years with the Rams, the first as the offensive coordinator and the next six as head coach, no tight end ever caught more than 38 passes and all the tight ends combined never caught more than 50 passes in a season.

The Bears' new offensive coordinator has mainly used the tight end as an extra blocker in the run game or pass protector. So, when the Bears signed 6-foot-2, 295-pound blocking tight end Brandon Manumaleuna early in free agency, Olsen's demise was widely anticipated. Either he would be traded, or his role as a pass catcher would be drastically reduced, according to the doomsday predictors.

But there was Olsen Wednesday afternoon at Halas Hall in the first of 14 OTA (organized team activity) practices sprinting down the field catching lasers from Jay Cutler as a member of the first team, often in the same personnel package as fellow tight end Desmond Clark. Manumaleuna has been limited to individual running drills on the sideline since having minor arthroscopic knee surgery.

Olsen is not the least bit worried about his role.

"I've addressed this a million times," he said. "I feel good the way things have gone so far, and it's early in the process, but so far everything's been great."

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But will it remain that way?

Olsen will be asked to block more often and more effectively than in the past, and he may never be an 80-catch guy, as had been predicted when he was drafted in the first round in 2007.

Olsen doesn't appear worried. It's still football, and Martz has said that the 6-foot-5, 255-pound former Miami Hurricane presents a receiving threat at tight end that Martz never had in St. Louis.

"Sometimes you focus your offense around what you've got," Olsen said. "In the past, (Martz) has had great wide receivers and great backs. It's the same here, but we feel like we have a couple tight ends who can do some stuff in the passing game along with those other guys. So we'll see how that works out.

"We feel good that he can kind of make it work to whatever his players' strengths are, and that's something that they continue to hit on."

As for the blocking, that's something Olsen knows wasn't a strength coming out of college, but he continues to work to improve in that area.

"It's been part of the program every single off-season, and each year I've gotten better," he said. "This year is no different, regardless of all that's happened. Every off-season we work hard at it, and that's not going to change."

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