(670 The Score) The Bears' tight end position has been through a lot in the last year.
Just one tight end currently on the Bears' roster was there a year ago -- Jesper Horsted, who's currently on the practice squad. Trey Burton was cut in April. Adam Shaheen was traded to the Dolphins in July. The position was entirely overhauled.
Once the Bears' greatest weakness, the new-look tight end group with Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, Demetrius Harris and J.P. Holtz is now giving the Bears versatility that coach Matt Nagy is using to help provide balance in his offense.
"I got all the trust in the world in those guys," Nagy said of the tight ends.
On the first play of Chicago's win at Detroit in its opener Sunday, Nagy seemed intent to make a point with his altered offensive scheme. He put quarterback Mitchell Trubisky under center with running back David Montgomery in the backfield. Graham was lined up at tight end alongside left tackle Charles Leno Jr., while Holtz was offset to Montgomery's left as an H-back blocker.
Montgomery rushed it six yards on his first carry, with the Bears providing a first glimpse of a more physical running game.
The Bears ran 65 offensive plays in the opener. They had two tight ends in the formation in 14 of those plays and three tight ends (H-backs included) on 12 more plays. The versatility served them well both in the running and passing game, and the tight ends served as a chess piece for Nagy as he sought favorable matchups against the Lions' defense.
Lions coach Matt Patricia primarily runs his defense out of man, and the Bears' sets with two or three tight ends allowed Trubisky to get a read for how Detroit was prepared to work in coverage. The Bears could adjust between a running or passing play at the line of scrimmage.
"We had our counter-attack to that," Nagy said. "It’s just a little game of cat-and-mouse that goes on throughout the game."
Of course, the Bears intend for their tight ends to make plays too. Graham was targeted seven times in the passing game, making three receptions for 25 yards. Trubisky missed him on multiple throws early in the game. Graham did haul in a two-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter on a jump ball from Trubisky.
As they look ahead, the Bears believe Graham, Kmet and the rest of the tight ends can be difference-making players. They also know well what the revamped position can mean to their offense.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.