New Bears TE Jesse James making strong case to stick around

James has looked good, especially as a pass catcher, and is in strong position to crack the roster.

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Bears tight end Jesse James, No. 18, is a seven-year veteran.

Bears tight end Jesse James, No. 18, is a seven-year veteran.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Veteran tight end Jesse James has been one of the surprises for the Bears in the first week of training camp.

James, 27, had a solid season (30 catches, 423 yards, two touchdowns) with the Steelers in 2018 but struggled for the Lions after that. The Bears already have Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet as their top two tight ends, but they thought James had the versatility to contribute as a blocker and receiver.

So far, he has looked like a good pickup, especially in the passing attack.

“You guys have seen him make some nice big catches over the middle, on the sideline,” coach Matt Nagy said. “He’s got super long arms, and he’s got friendly hands. It’s a friendly target.

“Only being here a couple weeks, with some of the verbiage we have and everything, it’s not easy. And he’s conquered that part.”

The Lions signed James off that 2018 season for $22.6 million over four years, but cut him in March after just 14 catches last season.

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