With bigger role, Bears TE Trey Burton expected to put up bigger numbers in 2018

SHARE With bigger role, Bears TE Trey Burton expected to put up bigger numbers in 2018

Bears tight end Trey Burton (talking with reporters after practice at training camp in Bourbonnais on Thursday) had 23 receptions for 248 yards and five touchdowns for the Eagles last season. He is expected to put up better numbers in a bigger role with the Bears in 2018. (Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times)

BOURBONNAIS — Trey Burton knows he’ll play a bigger role for the Bears than he did as the third tight end with the Super Bowl champion Eagles last season. But it’s still too early to know just how that will translate into receptions, yards and touchdowns.

“We’ll find out,” Burton said when asked if he’s going to get the ball enough in coach Matt Nagy’s offense. “That’s not really my job.”

Though he was the Bears’ second-biggest splash in free agency behind wide receiver Allen Robinson when he signed a four-year, $32 million contract ($22 million guaranteed) in the offseason, Burton’s role figures to vary from week to week, depending on matchups and game situations. If there’s any consistent responsibility, it’s to make plays when the Bears need them most — on third down, short yardage and at the goal line.

Burton, 26, has made his share of plays in the early practices of training camp at Olivet Nazarene, but it’s too early to see just how well he’ll fit in Nagy’s offense and how effective he’ll be.

“They’re throwing a lot of stuff at us,” Burton said. “We’re doing a lot of stuff in the classroom and a lot of guys are studying hard — long nights, asking a lot of really good questions.

“We’re not playing as fast as we will be, but guys are making good steps. Not as many mental errors as I would expect from my previous offenses. Everyone’s picking it up pretty well.”

Nagy said Burton is fitting into the offense as he expected, even if it’s not as perceptible as he hopes it will be during the season.


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“There’s zero game-planning going on right now in practice,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘The guys know it. So what they’re all trying to do is just kind of understand what the concept is and then they go. Once we get into the preseason and the [regular] season, it will be totally different.”

Burton played 300 offensive snaps for the Eagles last season — tied for 62nd among NFL tight ends. His snap count on offense is expected to increase significantly with the Bears, and he’s preparing in camp with that in mind.

“Just working on run-blocking and getting in that condition for playing a lot more plays than I have in the past,” said Burton, who had 23 receptions for 248 yards (10.8 average) and five touchdowns for the Eagles in 2017. “I never really got that many opportunities to work on the run-game stuff because I was third behind [Brent] Celek and [Zach] Ertz.”

Being effective as a run-blocker could be challenging for the 6-3, 235-pound Burton.

“That’s not my strength,” he acknowledged. “I’m trying to work on technique. I’m a smaller guy, so I know my technique has to be on point to win against bigger, stronger dudes.”

NOTE: The Bears signed wide receiver Malachi Jones, the Arena Football League rookie of the year, and cut wideout Matt Fleming.

Want your Bears training camp update without delay? Each day of summer practice, Sun-Times Bears’ beat writers Patrick Finley, Adam Jahns and Mark Potash will share exclusive insights on the workout and interviews in a livestream conversation 1 p.m. daily through August 12. Catch their live analysis and ask questions on Twitter: @suntimes_sports or follow Sun-Times Sports on Periscope to be notified of each live report. 

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