Adam Shaheen’s roster spot isn’t in jeopardy and he isn’t in danger of being placed on the trading block, but this preseason has certainly served as a reminder that the rookie experience (from expectations to actual performance) looks a lot like a roller coaster.
Drafted in the second round because of his combination of size, speed, and athleticism, Shaheen progressed quickly in rookie mini-camps and OTAs earlier this year. He then caught everything thrown his way during training camp, including our undivided attention. Indeed, the arrow was pointing up for the large-bodied tight end, who was making the climb from Division II football to the NFL look all too easy.
And then the preseason happened.
Shaheen has played in all three games this preseason, but has just three catches for 18 yards overall. Placed on the depth chart behind Dion Sims and Zach Miller, Shaheen started the summer as the third-string tight end, but hasn’t done much to move up. But don’t worry about Shaheen’s slow development, writes Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. The careful development of the tight end prospect seems to be part of the big-picture plan for the Bears (and for a player who has a few hurdles to clear before he’s a bona fide starter).
Of course, with Cam Meredith’s recent season-ending injury, there may be some unexpected playing time for Shaheen to snag early this season.
Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times came up with six ways the team could try and replace the 66 catches and 888 receiving yards Meredith leaves behind. And among the available options, we find some additional three tight end sets – which, of course, could feature a prominent role for Shaheen.
And to that end, Finley reports that the Bears were thinking about breaking camp with four tight ends, meaning someone like Daniel Brown, MyCole Pruitt, or Ben Braunecker could join Sims, Miller, and Shaheen on the roster. With four tight ends at his disposal, Loggains could dip into his bag of tricks and draw up some creative plays to get some wide-bodied pass catchers out into the formation.
But perhaps we should be cautious and pump the breaks on Shaheen, a player in transition at a position with multiple responsibilities. In fact, while Shaheen is expected to play an integral role with the Bears this season, it will likely start with his role as a blocker, where he still has plenty of improvements to make. After all, pass protection and run blocking are important and often overlooked aspects of a tight end’s responsibilities.
In the Chicago Bears’ offense, there is no looking past the value of a blocker on any given run or pass play. And if Shaheen takes the next step in his development, he could be a contributor in all three phases – potentially making him a dangerous weapon for the Bears’ offense down the line.