Cole Kmet could be key to unlocking Bears passing game in 2022

Cole Kmet

No Chicago Bears player is having a better start to training camp than tight end Cole Kmet. The 23-year-old is entering his third season in the league and is poised to breakout after setting career highs in receptions and yards in 2021.

“Cole is still young in his career, and he has a lot of really cool tools,” Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Friday. “I think he’s starting to learn how to use them. You talk about a guy that we hope can do a lot of different things. We’ve lined him up wide. We’ve let him do some routes outside. We’ve brought him in tight. We’ve put him in line and making him block the big boys up front, too and I think the cool part about him is that he can do all of that stuff really well.”

Kmet joined the Bears as a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after profiling as a ‘Baby Gronk’ at Notre Dame. He split starting duties as a rookie with Jimmy Graham but emerged as the full-time starter last year. He ended his second season with 60 catches for 612 yards, which quietly ranked him among the top 10 tight ends in receiving yardage.

“I think he’s on the brink right now of taking his game to another level,” Getsy said. “So I am hopeful that by the time we get through this camp, he is ready to be a rock star for us because we’re going to need him to be.”

The Chicago Bears certainly do need Kmet to be ‘that guy.’ The cast of wide receivers slated to play alongside Darnell Mooney all qualify as prove-it players. Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, and rookie Velus Jones Jr. are likely to play the most. But it’s Kmet who can emerge as the second option in the passing game if he carries his training camp momentum into the regular season.

“You just see him a lot now,” Mooney said Friday. “He’s making a lot of noise like, ‘I’m here.’ So, just himself, individually-wise, he’s turning it on for sure.”

Cole Kmet spent time working with quarterback Justin Fields this offseason. Their timing has been obvious through the first handful of padded practices. It hasn’t been perfect, but there’s confidence emerging in Kmet that, combined with his physical traits, can push him into the upper class of tight ends in 2022.

“I think this last week or so I definitely felt like I was playing a little more fast with this offense, knowing where to be at, how to get there in a timely manner,” Kmet said.  I think just the understanding of the offense, trusting my tools and what I have and what I can do is just gonna get me there.”

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