Hoge’s Training Camp Notebook: Offensive Line Concerns Are Real
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By Adam Hoge-
BOURBONNAIS (CBS) Mike Tice confirmed Monday what we’ve thought for nearly a week: J’Marcus Webb is the Bears starting left tackle.
He also confirmed something we’ve thought since the start of training camp: no one has really stood out on the offensive line.
“I thought that one guy would separate himself and really jump out there. I don’t think that’s really happened,” the offensive coordinator said. “So for me, let’s just keep status quo and see where the games take us. I’m not in a rush to change for change sake. We hope that a guy in his third year, Webb, will step up and mature as a football player and as a person and get better and show us that this means something to him.”
That sure sounds like an ultimatum to Webb. And it also makes you wonder about Chris Williams, who still lost the well publicized position battle at left tackle despite Webb failing to impress.
“We’re still going to evaluate the games and if one guy in the backup role steps up and has a great game, then we’ll reevaluate that,” Tice said.
The comments coming from the offensive coordinator are certainly alarming after the Bears decided to stick with what they had on the offensive line in the offseason. It’s starting to look more and more like the Bears are going to have to rely on the new system helping the line instead of pure talent.
“First and foremost, we’re going to scheme,” Tice said. “I’m an offensive line coach and we’re going to make sure we’re not embarrassing anybody or hurting our quarterback.”
That second part is what every Bears fan fears after Jay Cutler missed the last six games last season.
“We’ll be fine because we’re going to be able to have schemes where if we have a guy we’re not matching up well against we’re going to make sure that guy has two guys on him throughout the course of the game,” Tice said.
Basically, the longtime offensive line coach is going to be relying on his own talents to keep his quarterback upright.
The only good news is that right tackle Gabe Carimi’s knee is improving after last week’s setback.
“We know Carimi is a very good player, it was just a matter of how long it was going to take him to bounce back from the injury,” Tice said. “He had a rough start and it seems to have settled down and he told me he feels about 80 percent better. That’s a good thing and he’s put together four good practices in a row.”
Here are some other observations from Monday’s practice:
Defense Has Good Day
The Bears defense won the day, picking off Jay Cutler three times and returning all three for touchdowns. Nick Roach, Lance Briggs and D.J. Moore were the culprits.
After practice, Cutler said none of the offensive players are where they want to be (obviously, it’s still early in camp) and indicated that he has to improve.
It’s weird to see so much depth at the receiver positions in Bourbonnais, especially a day after one of the receivers (Devin Thomas) walked away. The Bears signed Rashied Davis Monday and he appears likely to make the team because of his special teams play, but it is by no means a guarantee. Cutler raved about the camp Dane Sanzenbacher has had and a number of the undrafted rookies (Joe Anderson, Brittan Golden and Chris Summers) have had their moments too. Anderson, in particular, made a number of tough catches in Monday’s practice.
Meanwhile, at tight end, all four options appear to be reliable. Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth are the veterans, but the Bears like Kyle Adams and fifth-round pick Evan Rodriguez has proven that he can both block effectively and make catches in traffic.
Play Of The Day
Monday’s play of the day actually came in pass rush drills instead of 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 work. Julius Peppers and Stephen Paea lined up against J’Marcus Webb and Chris Spencer and there was only one winner. Peppers managed to go right through both Webb and Spencer on his own and got to the quarterback almost immediately. He’s still got it.
Matt Forte was back in practice Monday… Brian Urlacher and Nick Price both were out for “personal reasons”… Eric Weems continues to be held out because of an ankle injury… Shea McClellin briefly left practice with an apparent right knee injury, but returned after the trainers tested it.
Alshon Jeffrey got some time with the 1s in the red zone Monday and is listed as the No. 4 wide receiver… Stephen Paea continues to look better than Matt Toeaina at nose tackle but the two were listed as co-starters in the team’s first depth chart… McClellin is still up and down in 1-on-1 drills, but clearly has elite speed at his position.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.