Spencer Surprises at Right Guard............
November 2, 2011
Spencer excelling in new role at right guard
By: Larry Mayer | Last Updated: 11/2/2011 12:21 PM
After starting 70 games the previous five seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Chris Spencer concedes that it wasn’t easy to begin his Bears career on the bench. “I’m a competitor and I want to be on the field,” said the veteran offensive lineman, who signed with the defending NFC North champions at the outset of training camp.
“I’ve been on the field since I’ve been in the league. It was a tough situation for me at first. But I knew at some point I was going to get an opportunity, and I knew I had to make the most of my opportunity.”
Spencer is doing just that. After making 66 starts at center and just four at guard with the Seahawks, the 6-3, 309-pounder is excelling at right guard with the Bears. Spencer has helped solidify the line since being inserted at that position in the season opener after Lance Louis exited with an ankle injury.
“[Spencer] has done a really good job of adapting to the style of play that we’re trying to teach,” said line coach Mike Tice. “It’s totally different than a lot of the things that he was asked to do in the west coast offense. He didn’t do a lot of pulling or a lot of double teams. “He has started at guard, but hasn’t played extensively there. He’s worked diligently on the technique things. He’s a good cut blocker. He’s smart; he doesn’t make a lot of mental errors and he’s helped settle things down in there. Having two centers on the field is usually a pretty good thing.”
Spencer impressed his new teammates and coaches when he returned to start the second half of a Week 4 win over the Carolina Panthers after breaking his hand in the first quarter of the game. “He showed me some toughness to want to be in the game with the hand injury,” Tice said. “I’ve been very pleased with him, with how he’s handled himself and how he’s played, most importantly. He has played good solid football for us. I couldn’t be happier that he’s in the group.”
Spencer has helped the Bears win their last two games by delivering key blocks. He created an immense hole on Marion Barber’s 3-yard touchdown run Oct. 16 against the Vikings and cleared a path with a textbook cut block on Matt Forte’s 32-yard TD dash Oct. 23 versus the Buccaneers.
“It’s just a testament to the things that I’ve been able to take from coach Tice and take into my game onto the field,” Spencer said. “It’s been improving week to week. I’m pretty excited about how things are going, and I’m just trying to continue to get comfortable at the position.”
With rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi close to returning to game action for the first time since suffering a knee injury in a Week 2 loss to New Orleans, it's possible Spencer could be headed back to the bench. It's a scenario that likely would unfold if the Bears choose to slide Lance Louis back from right tackle to guard. But Spencer isn’t worried.
“I don’t get paid to make those decisions; I get paid to play,” he said. “Whatever decision they make is their decision. I’ve just got to continue to work on what I’ve got to work on to get better.”