Chicago Bears right tackle J’Marcus Webb was demoted to the second team this week in practice, showing Head Coach Marc Trestman has little patience for poor, inconsistent play. This is the latest in a series of offseason changes to an offensive line in need of a facelift.
Sunday was the first practice since Friday’s preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, NC, a game in which Webb was not only beaten, but flat-out embarrassed by Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson en route to a sack of Bears QB Jay Cutler. Webb is playing right tackle after spending the last two seasons as the starting left tackle. Webb started 12 games at right tackle during his rookie season in 2010.
Rookie right tackle Jordan Mills took reps with the first team in Sunday’s practice and could start in Thursday’s exhibition game against the San Diego Chargers at Soldier Field. Right tackle Eben Britton should also be in the mix. Britton, who signed a one-year deal in April, has played well in training camp, but was unimpressive during Friday’s game in which he took snaps at left tackle with the second team.
Trestman made another change to the offensive line on Sunday, replacing right guard James Brown with first round draft pick Kyle Long. Jermon Bushrod was brought in via free agency and is a lock to start at left tackle. Guard Matt Slauson was also signed this offseason and appears to have cemented himself in the starting left guard spot. Should Long and either Mills or Britton start opening day, it would make center Roberto Garza—the team’s longest tenured and arguably the best offensive lineman from last season—the only remaining starter from that group.
Webb’s versatility gives him value as a backup swing tackle, making it unlikely the Bears would cut him, but nothing is out of the realm of possibility. This lineup shift, coupled with GM Phil Emery’s refusal to negotiate any new player contracts until after the season, shows it’s time for Bears players to put up or shut up.