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Tight Ends

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ON THE RISE

HEATH MILLER,Steelers
With Jerome Bettis retired and Antwaan Randle El gone as a free agent, Millerwill play a larger role in the offense, especially in the red zone.

TODD HEAP,Ravens
Coming off career highs in catches and yards, he'll benefit from Baltimore'supgraded passing attack.

ALEX SMITH,Buccaneers
His 41 catches were tops among rookie TEs last year; he'll likely start aheadof Anthony Becht this season.

ON THEDECLINE

DANIEL GRAHAM,Patriots
The tight end pass-catching duties in New England are shifting to the emergingBen Watson.

STEVE HEIDEN,Browns
With Kellen Winslow back, catches will be few and far between for Cleveland'ssecond TE.

MARCUS POLLARD,Lions
Don't expect much out of the former top-tier tight end while he's playing inMike Martz's system.

SLEEPERS

BRYAN FLETCHER,Colts
Caught multiple passes in nine games after starting the season as Indy's thirdTE; worth a late pick.

CHRIS BAKER,Jets
New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was instrumental in thedevelopment of Antonio Gates.

ANTHONY FASANO,Cowboys
Ex--Notre Dame star reminds some of alltime Bill Parcells favorite Mark Bavaro.Look for lots of two-TE sets with Jason Witten.

 

SI PLAYER RANKINGS FOR 2006
With 2005 stats

GAMES

CATCHES

REC.
YARDS

YARDS
/CATCH

YARDS
/GAME

100-YARD
GAMES

TDS

BYE
WEEK

1.

Antonio Gates, Chargers

15

89

1,101

12.4

73.4

4

10

3

2.

Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs

16

78

905

11.6

56.6

0

2

3

3.

Todd Heap, Ravens

16

75

855

11.4

53.4

1

7

7

4.

Jeremy Shockey, Giants

15

65

891

13.7

59.4

4

7

4

5.

Chris Cooley, Redskins

16

71

774

10.9

48.4

0

7

8

6.

Dallas Clark, Colts

15

37

488

13.2

32.5

1

4

6

7.

L.J. Smith, Eagles

16

61

682

11.2

42.6

1

3

9

8.

Jason Witten, Cowboys

16

66

757

11.5

47.3

0

6

3

9.

Alge Crumpler, Falcons

16

65

877

13.5

54.8

1

5

5

10.

Heath Miller, Steelers

16

39

459

11.8

28.7

0

6

4

11.

Vernon Davis,† 49ers *

11

51

871

17.1

79.2

4

6

7

12.

Jerramy Stevens, Seahawks

16

45

554

12.3

34.6

0

5

5

13.

Randy McMichael, Dolphins

16

60

582

9.7

36.4

0

5

8

14.

Kellen Winslow,‡ Browns

2

5

50

10.0

25.0

0

0

6

15.

Alex Smith, Buccaneers

16

41

367

9

22.9

0

2

4

16.

Ben Watson, Patriots

15

29

441

15.2

29.4

0

4

6

17.

Erron Kinney, Titans

14

55

543

9.9

38.8

0

2

7

18.

Chris Baker, Jets

8

18

269

14.9

33.6

1

1

9

19.

Ben Troupe, Titans

15

55

530

9.6

35.3

1

4

7

20.

Jeb Putzier, Texans *

16

37

481

13

30.1

0

0

5

21.

Zachary Hilton, Saints

15

35

396

11.3

26.4

0

1

7

22.

Bryan Fletcher, Colts

16

18

202

11.2

12.6

0

3

6

23.

Bubba Franks, Packers

10

25

207

8.3

20.7

0

1

6

24.

Daniel Graham, Patriots

11

16

235

14.7

21.4

0

3

6

25.

Joe Klopfenstein,† Rams *

13

33

468

14.2

36.0

0

4

7

26.

Anthony Fasano,† Cowboys *

12

47

576

12.3

48.0

0

2

3

27.

Kris Mangum, Panthers

14

23

202

8.8

14.4

0

2

9

28.

Marcedes Lewis,† Jaguars *

12

58

741

12.8

61.8

3

10

6

29.

Aaron Shea, Chargers *

12

18

153

8.5

12.8

0

1

3

30.

Ernie Conwell, Saints

8

13

165

12.7

20.6

0

1

7

31.

Steve Heiden, Browns

15

43

401

9.3

26.7

1

3

6

32.

Jermaine Wiggins, Vikings

16

69

568

8.2

35.5

0

1

6

*New team for2006 season † College stats ‡ 2004 stats

PHOTO

BOB ROSATO

PHOTO

CHRIS BERNACCHI/SPORTPICS