Martz pleased with line's progress
Martz pleased with line's progress
By: Larry Mayer
Martz is pleased with the progress the No. 1 unit has made early in training camp.
Players presently working with the first team are J’Marcus Webb at left tackle, Chris Williams at left guard, Roberto Garza at center, Lance Louis at right guard and rookie Gabe Carimi at right tackle.
“There’s a couple of things with the line that are very, very encouraging,” Martz said Tuesday in Bourbonnais. “First of all, Garza last year had a terrific year. He played exceptionally well. Moving J’Marcus back over to the left side, he’s probably a little more comfortable over there.
“The progress that that group—Chris, Garza, all those guys—made together the second half of season, [they] continued to get better every week and we’ve kind of picked up with that a little bit.
“Now Carimi, he’s going to learn what’s going on. But he’s not intimidated by anything. He’s got that great work ethic. He’s athletic. He’s what we were looking for to help us at the tackle position, so we think we’ve resolved some of those issues.
“Obviously we miss Olin. [His exit was] unexpected and it hurts all of us. We were very attached to Olin. But at this point, the five that we have in here, we’re very comfortable with. We’re happy with the progress that they’re making and I’m very encouraged by it, and obviously Mike [Tice] is the guy you want coaching those guys.”
The Bears bolstered their line Sunday by signing veteran free agent Chris Spencer, who started 70 games over the past six seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, primarily at center. Spencer likely will start in Chicago, but he’ll have to earn the position first.
“We’re not going to anoint anyone a starter over any of our guys,” Martz said. “He may not make it, I don’t know. He’s got to come in and compete at that position. But he’s a veteran that’s played very well. He’s a good player. If he’s not better than what we have, then he won’t be the starter.
“Be very careful about anointing anybody a starter over anybody that we have. Like I said, we’re happy with our starters in there right now and the progress that they’re making and what they can eventually do. We’re very pleased with that.”
Martz is very high on the versatile Garza, an 11-year veteran who is now the Bears’ longest tenured offensive lineman with Kreutz no longer on the roster.
“Garza is one of our better offensive linemen,” Martz said. “He could play center or guard. Like I told you last year, I can’t tell you enough how important it was to get him back on the offensive line and show stabilizing that was. He’s very quiet and understated, but very powerful and very consistent and a very good football player.”
With newcomers Carimi (6-7, 316) and Spencer (6-3, 309) possibly joining Garza (6-2, 310) in the starting lineup, the Bears offensive line would be much bigger than it was last season.
“I’m very happy with the size of these guys and how physical they are,” Martz said. “That’s a big offensive line. We’re not a finesse, cute, cut, pull around and do those kinds of things. We want to come off the ball and these are those kinds of guys, so we’re happy with that.”
Size, of course, isn’t the most important thing with the offensive line. Whether they can protect quarterback Jay Cutler and open holes in the running game is what matters most, and so far Martz likes what he sees.
“I can say it better as we get through the preseason, but I really like where we’re at personnel-wise and the confidence that these guys have,” he said. “At this time last year we had no idea who was even going to line up. We were struggling to find guys and get them in the right spot. So we’ve got a leg up on that and I would suspect that we’ll do well with that.”