Having studied his playbook since the start of the offseason program April 4, Cole Kmet is excited about the role he envisions playing in the Bears' new offense.
"You kind of see how the tight end's involved in the run scheme," Kmet said, "and, off of that, the play-action movements and all those type of things can be really advantageous for tight ends."
Kmet's optimism has been fueled by seeing how tight ends in similar systems—such as the 49ers' George Kittle and the Packers' Robert Tonyan—have been utilized.
Since being selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Notre Dame, Kmet has caught 88 passes for 855 yards and two touchdowns in 33 games over two seasons. The 6-6, 250-pounder more than doubled his rookie year output in 2021 with 60 receptions for 612 yards.
With first-year coach Matt Eberflus and an entirely new staff taking over, Kmet knows that he'll have to prove himself all over again. But that's just fine with the 23-year-old.
"Yeah, starting over again, but I'm optimistic," Kmet said. "I'm totally bought in to what's going on here. Coach Eberflus is coming with a great mindset that I think is really good for this team. We're young, but I'm totally bought in to what's going on here and I'm excited for it.
"He's a straight shooter, which is awesome. You know exactly what he wants. There's no gray area. As a player, that's all you can ask for."
In practice, Kmet has been trying to demonstrate that he's a well-rounded tight end.
"For me, it's just taking it day-to-day," Kmet said, "doing my best to show the coaches what I'm capable of doing and being able to do multiple things; not just being a [receiver], not just being a run blocker, but being able to show them that I can be involved in everything, because if you can do both, run and pass really well, you're going to get some nice open passes in the field."
Kmet told reporters that he's focused on improving two aspects of his game this offseason: catching every pass with his hands and "really craving violence through my blocks." He's been working on the former in practice but must wait to address the latter when the pads come on in training camp.
Kmet approaches his job with a sense of urgency he learned from his uncle, Jeff Zgonina, an NFL defensive tackle for 17 seasons from 1993-2009.
"There's no reason not to study the night before," Kmet said. "You've got to know your stuff before you come in. There's no excuse for not knowing what to do on a play, whether they installed it correctly or not. You've got all the sheets, you've got everything. You've got to be a pro and know what you're doing."
Kmet knew exactly what he was doing in March when he headed to Atlanta to work out with quarterback Justin Fields and receiver Darnell Mooney.
"For me, it's not so much timing and get a feel for each other on the field, but more just relationship," Kmet said. "I think that's important, having a good relationship with guys. It was just good bonding … and I think that goes to the field, so I think that's important."
To Kmet, Fields seems more comfortable entering his second NFL season than he was as a rookie last year.
"Man, he's confident," Kmet said. "He's confident coming in, so it's been fun to be out there with him. Confident in the huddle, in his calls, things like that, taking initiative with everybody, and that's been a lot of fun to be a part of.
"You just feel him in the huddle. He's not just repeating the play, he's telling you the play, and there's a difference in that. That gives me confidence as a player out on the field."
Kmet also has confidence in first-year coordinator Luke Getsy, who joined the Bears this year after spending five of the last six seasons as a Packers offensive assistant.
"He's been great, really detailed and specific on what he wants," Kmet said. "He's thrown a lot at us this past month and a half, two months. But I think he just wants to see what everyone can do, and I think that's a good thing. We've been getting a lot of info thrown at us. But it's been good and we're just trying to see how much we can absorb at once."