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Cole Kmet Sees Potential for Bears to Elevate Justin Fields

By Gene Chamberlain,


The number of measurable Bears offensive advancements during Year 1 of their rebuild can be counted on one hand.

There's Justin Fields' improvement as an all-around running threat, proof running back Khalil Herbert could handle a starting role, the blocking of Teven Jenkins and rookie Braxton Jones and finally tight end Cole Kmet's greatest strides since entering the league.

Kmet comes into his contract year in a commanding position because of how he caught a team- and career-high seven touchdown passes and led the team in receptions and yardage after wide receiver Darnell Mooney went out with an ankle injury in Week 12.

Yet, the Bears went out and found another tight end in former Packer Robert Tonyan Jr. Kmet views the addition as a help and not threat to his playing time or his chance to get a good contract with his extension due.

"I knew Bobby well," Kmet said. "We first met each other over at the Tight End U deal down in Nashville, and then obviously playing them (Green Bay) twice a year for the last three years, you get to know him well.

"Great dude. I think he's going to be a great fit. I think me and him are going to do a lot of good things together when we're able to go 12 (personnel, aka double tight end). I'm really excited about it."

Kmet isn't seeing Tonyan as taking away his chances for more production as much as seeing the overall widening of the entire offense's capability, which can only benefit everyone. He saw progress of his own last year when he averaged four catches for 42 yards a game over the final nine.

"I think it was just more the offense was growing, and that kind of helps the situation statistically speaking," Kmet said. "So yeah, we had a good little stretch there in the middle of the season. Maybe we didn't really end the season how we wanted to. But we're working hard to amend that so we can get a fast start going this year."

Kmet sees several factors working toward putting coordinator Luke Getsy's offense in a higher gear when the Bear start.

"I think just one's familiarity with the offense," Kmet said. "You come in knowing what to do right away, and when Luke's installing stuff, you already know the plays, all that stuff—a lot easier to process, a lot easier to get going on the details."

A year ago, it was teaching and teaching and installing and teaching. Now they're starting ahead of the game.

"So instead of seeing what route you're running, you know what route and you know how to adjust off man vs. two, vs. four," he said. "You know, those type of things."

Another is the impact a receiver like DJ Moore can make. The effect can reach the tight ends.

"Yeah, I don’t want to get too far ahead," he said, sounding a note of caution. "I mean, it's OTAs right now. But you can tell.

"You see his tape in Carolina and you see what he does just on the field in routes vs. air and just how he moves that he's going to be a big impact player for us. For the tight end room, it's big. You've got a guy that can threaten vertically and can do those things and open up zone and holes for us."

Then, of course, there is Justin Fields' advancement. Kmet recalled how last year was one where the offense stalled and Fields had to carry it with his athletic ability. Now, he sees it as a case where they can do things to serve or complement their quarterback instead of relying on him too much.

"I think we're going to be better around him, so that's going to help him a lot," Kmet said. "So I think that's one thing.

"His leadership keeps growing. I think he just gets more confidence in himself every day and how he comes in the locker room every day, so that's been cool to see. But we'll see where it goes and we’re excited about it. But we're going to be great around him. That's our goal this year. We're going to help him a lot so he doesn't have to do all of the running he had to do last year. So it should work out for both sides."

To make the progress mean something long term, Kmet needs another contract because this is his final season.

"I got a year to prepare for, so that's my mindset," Kmet said. "Obviously you hope that happens. You wanna maybe get it done.

"But like I said, at this point, I kinda let my agents handle that deal."

There's an offense to elevate and yardage to gain now, then a possibility he views as far greater for the Bears future.

"We're excited about where it's going and we're optimistic and we're working hard to get this thing going in the right direction in order to go win a Super Bowl," Kmet said.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

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