Looking to get his career back on track after it was derailed by injuries, Bears tight end Zach Miller took a major stride in that direction in Friday night's preseason opener.
The fifth-year pro from Nebraska-Omaha caught six passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns in an entertaining 34-28 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field.
Miller was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the sixth round of the 2009 draft. After playing quarterback in college, he was immediately converted to tight end in the NFL. His only experience at his new position in college came in the Cactus Bowl, a Division II all-star game.
Miller appeared in 33 games with five starts during his first three seasons with the Jaguars, catching 45 passes for 470 yards and four TDs. He hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2011, however, having spent the 2012 campaign on injured reserve and last year out of football.
Miller's first TD reception Friday night against the Eagles, a 10-yarder, came on a perfect back-shoulder throw from Jay Cutler and gave the Bears a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
"For Jay to trust me with that ball means a lot, and he put it exactly where he needed to," said Miller, who beat tight coverage from linebacker DeMeco Ryans on the play.
Cutler wasn't surprised that Miller was able to make the play.
"He's had a good camp," Cutler said. "We just want to get him in games and see how he can do. Every time he's had an opportunity he's made a play. We just have to keep progressing him along. He has been a nice addition for the offense and we're excited to use him more."
Miller's second TD reception, a 12-yarder from Jordan Palmer, came on a similar play and tied the game 14-14 late in the first half. Miller leaped over linebacker Jason Phillips to make the catch.
In addition to his two touchdowns, Miller showed excellent run-after-the-catch ability, turning short completions into longer gains by making the first defender miss.
"Being a college quarterback I was a 'move-around guy,' so I ran the ball quite a lot," Miller said. "That's something I've always done and I feel comfortable doing it."