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After slow start, Bears TE Cole Kmet on target

The 2020 second-round pick had six receptions for a career-high 87 yards against the Steelers. He already has eclipsed his rookie totals with 28 receptions for 284 yards in nine games this season.

Bears tight end Cole Kmet (85) had six receptions for 87 yards on a team-high eight targets against the Steelers on Monday night.
Bears tight end Cole Kmet (85) had six receptions for 87 yards on a team-high eight targets against the Steelers on Monday night.
Fred Vuich/AP

As Justin Fields grows, tight end Cole Kmet grows with him.

It’s not a coincidence. Kmet, the 2020 second-round pick from Notre Dame, has become more and more of a go-to target for Fields. He had six receptions for a career-high 87 yards (14.5 average) against the Steelers on Monday night.

In his last four games, the 6-6, 260-pound Kmet has 18 receptions for 203 yards (11.3 average). Modest numbers for most big-offense tight ends, but a big sign of progress for the Bears’ offense. Kmet also had a key block on a 21-yard run by David Montgomery against Pittsburgh.

Kmet already has more receiving yards in nine games (28-284, 10.1 average) than he had in 16 games as a rookie (28-243, 8.7 average, two touchdowns).

“He’s taken that next step,” coach Matt Nagy said. “He’s at a point where I think you’re starting to see some more targets go his way. He’s making big catches. He’s a big-body guy. He’s a physical tight end, doing great in the run game. I love where he’s at. I love his mentality, and I think he’s going to keep growing.”

Kmet’s previous high in yardage came against the Packers in Week 6 — four receptions for 49 yards. Kmet’s 87 yards were the third-most by a tight end in Week 9 — behind the 49ers’ George Kittle (6-101, one touchdown) and the Raiders’ Darren Waller (7-92).

Injury update

Wide receiver Allen Robinson suffered a hamstring injury on the 39-yard catch in the fourth quarter that sparked the TD drive that gave the Bears a 27-26 lead with 1:46 left.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks suffered an ankle injury, limiting him to 35 of 72 snaps on defense.

Nagy didn’t indicate the severity of either injury. The Bears have a bye week to get healthy. Linebacker Khalil Mack (sprained foot) missed his second consecutive game. Safety Eddie Jackson (hamstring) and linebacker Alec Ogletree (ankle) also didn’t play.

Out of the cellar

The Bears’ season-high 414 yards against the Steelers moved them ahead of the Texans into 31st place in total offense. The Bears have 2,526 yards (280.7 average). The Texans have 2,521 yards (280.1 average). Next in their sights are the 30th-place Dolphins (2,677 yards, 297.4 average).

The Bears’ season-high 27 points moved them from 31st to 30th in scoring (16.7 points per game). The Bears are tied for sixth in rushing offense (136.6 yards per game) but still are 32nd in passing (144.1).