By Adam Hoge-
The first in a series of depth chart breakdowns leading up to the start of Bears training camp in Bourbonnais.
(CBS) It’s become a tiresome, repetitive topic in Chicago, but Bears fans should brace for another training camp full of questions about the offensive line.
General manager Phil Emery worked hard in the offseason to upgrade the Bears’ biggest weakness through both free agency and the draft, but protecting Jay Cutler is now more important than ever and there’s no guarantee it will happen this year.
So, as we begin a series of depth chart previews before the Bears report to Bourbonnais in just 15 days, we might as well start with a revamped offensive line that will go a long way in determining whether or not this is Cutler’s last year in Chicago.
|1st Team||2nd Team||3rd Team||4th Team|
|LT||Jermon Bushrod||J’Marcus Webb||Cory Brandon|
|LG||Matt Slauson||James Brown||Derrick Dennis|
|C||Roberto Garza||Edwin Williams||Taylor Boggs||P.J. Lonergan|
|RG||Kyle Long||James Brown||Eben Britton|
|RT||J’Marcus Webb||Jonathan Scott||Jordan Mills|
LT Jermon Bushrod – The late-blooming, seventh-year left tackle is now a two-time Pro Bowler, but he has large shoes to fill and the lofty expectations may be too high.
LG Matt Slauson – The Bears hope the fifth-year guard will be steady addition to the left side of the line.
C Roberto Garza – A free agent at season’s end, this could be Garza’s last year in Chicago.
RG Kyle Long – Raw and inexperienced, the Bears are hoping Long will be able to start Week 1.
RT J’Marcus Webb – Never worked on the left side so Bears will try him on the right.
RT Jonathan Scott – Ended last season as the Bears’ No. 1 right tackle and could very well beat out Webb for the job in camp.
OT Cory Brandon – Spent most of 2012 on the Bears’ practice squad and never saw game action.
OT Jordan Mills – Fifth round draft pick will have good shot to make the 53-man roster.
OG James Brown – Former undrafted guard will push Long for a starting job and shouldn’t have trouble making the team.
OG Eben Britton – The former second-round pick figures to be a guard, but could get work at tackle if necessary.
OL Derrick Dennis – Somewhat of a wild card, Bears likely hoping Dennis emerges like Brown did last year in camp.
G/C Edwin Williams – Now in his fourth year with the Bears, Williams will be competing for another reserve role.
C P.J. Lonergan – The Bears will determine quickly if this undrafted center out of LSU is a possible future replacement for Garza.
C Taylor Boggs – Appears to be a camp body. Longshot to make the 53-man roster.
Training Camp Outlook
Bushrod and Garza are probably the only locks as starters, although it would be surprising if Slauson is not the starting left guard. The biggest position battles will occur on the right side with Long, Brown and Britton battling it out at the guard position and Webb and Scott fighting for the tackle spot.
At this point, it doesn’t matter who wins those battles as long as someone actually does. The Bears’ biggest problem in camp a year ago is that J’Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi simply won their jobs by default — they didn’t exactly impress in doing so. Thus, their struggles during the regular season weren’t really a surprise. Scott proved to be a viable option at the end of last season, but the Bears would much rather see Webb show up to Bourbonnais an actually win the starting right tackle job. The same goes at right guard. A healthy competition between Long, Brown and Britton (with one even pushing Slauson on the left side) would help the Bears a lot.
Sleeper: Jordan Mills. The Bears didn’t do a whole lot after the draft to boost their depth at tackle, which is an indication that they like their fifth round pick out of Louisiana Tech and expect him to make the team. With a good camp, he could jump into the picture on the right side.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.