The Chicago Bears have finally put the pads on. It may have been the weekend, but that didn’t stop over 10,000 die-hard Chicago Bears fans from showing up to a little town called Bourbonnais to watch their beleoved team. Head coach Lovie Smith mentioned how impressed he was with the size of the crowd.
“Here in Chicago we have great fans,” he said. “They come out. It’s a perfect night to watch good football. It’s the weekend here in Chicago. The crowd was into it and we like that.
“We’re going to play a lot of prime-time games. Our guys need to be able to play in an environment where they hear fans talking to them, so this was a good environment and I think we put on a pretty good show for them tonight.”
There are new faces in Chicago this year, and every man that takes the field, is fighting for a job that will pay them very handsomely. However, the most heated battle for a starting job at training camp comes from familiar faces. J’Marcus Webb and Chris Williams at left tackle. The two are dead even and splitting first-team reps in practice.
“It’s going to be a dogfight for those two guys,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “I’m not going to put up with any crap as far as turning pass-rushers free and not protecting the quarterback. We have too many athletes to not be able to throw the football explosively.”
Webb, a 2010 seventh-round pick from West Texas A&M, started all 16 games at left tackle last season after opening 12 games at right tackle as a rookie. Webb does have the body-style to be a consistent tackle, but he does seem to have mental lapses on the field from time-to-time.
Williams, a 2008 first-round pick from Vanderbilt, joined the Chicago Bears as a left tackle before being moved to right tackle in 2009. He returned to left tackle late that season before switching to left guard in 2010. Williams started the first nine games at left guard in 2011 before sustaining a season-ending wrist injury. Williams was drafted 4 years ago, and has been moved around so much that he may have had trouble grasping just one position. Hopefully his wrist is fully healed and the coaching staff can concentrate his skills to just the left tackle position.
Consistency and smarts will be a key factor in determining the starter at left tackle. The Chicago Bears need a legitimate pass blocker if they want Jay Cutler and his new targets to excel.
“We’re going to keep the heat on both of them,” Tice said. “What we want to see is who’s going to block our good pass rushers. I know they can both run block, but we’re not going to go out there and run the ball 50 times a game. So you’ve got to be able to protect. If you can’t protect, you can’t play for us.”
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