Don't be surprised if Bears TE Daniel Brown pushes the 32-year-old Zach Miller for a job. Miller was sidelined during the offseason program making his way back from the broken right foot suffered in the Week 11 loss at the Giants last season. It's similar to the injury he suffered in the 2014 preseason that wiped out that entire year for him.
Miller had career-highs with 47 receptions for 486 yards in only 10 games last season a year after he broke out with 34 catches for 439 yards (12.9 average) and five touchdowns in 2015 when he played in 15 games but was involved in the passing game for really only the second half of the season.
Miller's contract has one year remaining with a base salary of $1.5 million and the issue the Bears have to tackle is if they can take a chance knowing Miller's durability issues. He has played in 25 games and missed 23 since joining the team in 2014. He has been given props by teammates, coaches and management for being a positive influence in the locker room but if Miller can't stay on the field, intangibles are more difficult to quantify.
Brown, the converted wide receiver who was claimed off waivers from the Ravens in November, profiles for the same type of role in the offense. He caught 16 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown in the final six games and was just learning the offense after the Ravens moved him from wide receiver at the start of last year. The Bears turned to him quickly after Miller was injured and Brown averaged 43.5 snaps per game.
Over the past two seasons, Miller has averaged 3.7 receptions (on 5.0 targets) for 42 yards and 0.41 TD in 22 games. Those numbers would have been good enough for a #11 TE finish in 2016. His issue has been staying healthy, and now he’s going to have to build a rapport with a new quarterback since he’s coming off of a foot injury and has been missing crucial practice reps.