A third-string tight end who played predominantly in passing situations with the Eagles the past few seasons, Trey Burton is already a polished pass receiver.
What the Bears' prized free-agent acquisition is focusing on this summer in training camp practices is becoming a more complete tight end who never has to leave the field.
"I'm just working on run blocking and then also getting in that condition for playing a lot more plays than I have in the past," Burton said Thursday in Bourbonnais.
"I never really got that many opportunities to work on the run game stuff in Philly because I was the third guy and [Brent] Celek and [Zach] Ertz were the majority of the run game. I'm trying to take more pride into that and spend a lot more time on that."
At 6-3 and 235 pounds, Burton is considered a large man among the general population. But blocking defensive linemen and linebackers on an NFL football field, he's usually trying to make up for a size disadvantage that often can be significant.
"I'm trying to work on technique," Burton said. "I'm a smaller guy, so I know my technique has to be on point in order to win against bigger, stronger dudes."
Burton hones his run-blocking technique in practice in one-on-one drills that sometime expose his lack of size and inexperience. But the fifth-year pro from Florida understands that the keys to success involve repetition and learning from his mistakes.
"The difficult part of it is losing more than you win," Burton said. "In the one-on-ones, I'm going against bigger dudes, but I want to get more and more reps. I'm not going to win every single rep—I understand that—but just having the humility of going in there constantly and getting beat but trying every single time, it helps me a lot."
Burton's determination to improve in a not-so-glamorous aspect of the game such as run-blocking provides an excellent example to his teammates. It's only one of the reasons that first-year coach Matt Nagy values Burton's leadership.
"With Trey, he's not a very vocal guy," Nagy said. "But I have seen him when he does come out at times. When there's a little lull on offense, he's the guy that steps up and he starts getting the guys going, let's go, pick it up-type of deal that'll happen naturally. He's not going to force it. He knows the right time when to do it."
Teammates also lean on Burton because he has experience in the scheme, having played for coach Doug Pederson in Philadelphia. Pederson worked with Nagy on Andy Reid's staff with the Chiefs before being hired by the Eagles.
"It's a big advantage," Burton said. "Not having to study as much, I'm able to help other people when it comes to afternoon meetings, and at night I can spend more time helping other people. I bring a different way of thinking. Coaches will install it one way and everybody thinks differently to help you memorize the play. But I think differently, so I'm able to help them with the way I think of it and sometimes they can pick that up a little better."
Nagy enjoys having Burton as a resource on the field and in the classroom.
"It's really good," said the Bears coach. "When we're in installs I may ask him, 'Hey Trey, is this how you have done it in Philadelphia with Doug,' now and then because everyone is always kind of tweaking and everyone has different ideas. Trey knows this offense inside out. He understands leverage. He understands how to get open."