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Kmet gradually adjusting to life in NFL


Tight end Cole Kmet feels optimistic two games into his NFL career.

Kmet hasn't had the instant success that some of his fellow rookies have had; cornerback Jaylon Johnson has locked down a starting job, and receiver Darnell Mooney is currently second on the team in receptions. However, Kmet has played roughly a third of the Bears' offensive snaps this season.

Kmet is hoping to use this early exposure to adjust to the pro game.

"I think the speed of the game is something that's amplified from college," said Kmet. "Everybody's kind of on your level. There were times in college where you could maybe be a little late off the snap and overpower a guy or get ahead of a guy. But everybody's got to be on the details when you're playing against professionals. I've really realized that for these first two games."

Kmet's draft stock skyrocketed last year at Notre Dame as he went from a lightly used tight end to one of the top weapons in the Fighting Irish offense. After reversing his initial decision to return to school, he's back in student mode.

"It takes a lot of patience," said Kmet. "Going from being the guy to kind of being in a learning position right now with, obviously, two vets ahead of me in terms of Demetrius [Harris] and Jimmy [Graham] is something that I gotta learn to be patient with, something that I fully embrace right now."

Kmet has been able to use Graham as a standard for performance, hoping to emulate the four-time Pro Bowler's professionalism and attitude.

"I just see how he comes out to work every day for practice," said Kmet. "That's something that I look up to and try to match. I know that he wants to show what he can do on the field and that he's still a great tight end, which he is. I'm going to follow his lead during practice. He comes out to work every day. I just think he's a great pulse for this team."

Early in his career, Kmet has been used more for his blocking. The Bears have introduced three tight end sets to establish the run and help with pass blocking. Though Kmet has seen less action than Graham and Harris, both he and Harris have only had two passes thrown their way.

"Just I gotta use it to my advantage during the week," said Kmet. "Being able to learn from these guys is just invaluable. So just kind of making the most of it right now and continue to improve each day and staying patient during this whole process."

As an Illinois native, Kmet hasn't had to worry about adjusting to a foreign environment. The drive from his home in Arlington Heights to Halas Hall is shorter than the commute from the Bears headquarters to Soldier Field.

"I think there was a sense of just comfort, being at home," said Kmet. "I know the area, I know Lake Forest. Being comfortable with the area and driving around, knowing how to get to Halas without directions, is pretty cool. I think just that type of familiarity was nice coming in and kind of made the transition a lot smoother than maybe if I were somewhere else that I wasn't familiar with."

While he's still looking to establish himself as an offensive weapon, Kmet has taken something away from his first two games in the NFL.

"I think I've proven to myself, at least, that I can play at this level," said Kmet. "Being on the field with those type of guys, these type of athletes, it's been cool for me to see. I feel like I definitely belong up on this level. I feel like that's been pretty cool."