Bears May Move Chris Williams Back to Tackle
Bears may move Williams back to tackle
Former first-round pick played left guard last two seasons, but options are few
By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter 8:43 p.m. CDT, May 14, 2012
The latest series of moves by the Bears leaves one spot remaining on the 90-man roster, and unless the team fills it with a veteran offensive tackle, the likely option will be to move Chris Williams back to his original position.
The 14th pick in the 2008 draft, Williams has made 20 starts the last two seasons at left guard — missing time in 2010 with a pulled hamstring and the final seven games last season with a wrist injury. But with last year's top pick Gabe Carimi still recovering from December surgery on his right knee, and with J'Marcus Webb the only other veteran, it appears the club has no alternative.
Williams has worked at tackle during the voluntary offseason program, according to one teammate, so the move already could be in the works. The club lists him at guard and tackle. On Monday, the Bears waived Levi Horn, a tackle who was on the practice squad the last two seasons, along with guard Reggie Stephens and tight end Andre Smith. Those cuts made room for the seven undrafted free agents signed after successful tryouts in rookie minicamp over the weekend.
The Bears have professed faith in Webb, who struggled at times last season at left tackle but is clearly atop the depth chart. The team is similarly confident Carimi will return to form as an emerging player, but he might not be ready for practice until June. Carimi played 11/2 games as a rookie before being injured.
After those two, there are only undrafted free agents in the mix — Troy's James Brown, who also was used at guard, Auburn's A.J. Greene and Tyler Hendrickson from Division II Concordia. The Bears haven't publicly identified a third tackle, a position manned last season by Frank Omiyale, who made three midseason starts before he was demoted.
There is ample depth at guard, where Williams has played since offensive line coach-turned-coordinator Mike Tice shifted him after his hamstring injury in 2010. Newly signed Chilo Rachal can compete with Chris Spencer, Lance Louis and Edwin Williams, creating a mix for training camp and preseason to determine starters.
The only other option for the Bears right now could be to consider Louis at tackle again. He started 11 games at right tackle last season, but Chris Williams has been the one spending time at tackle so far and the team has always maintained that Louis is best suited to the interior.
The upside is Williams must realize there is a lot at stake for him entering the final year of his contract. The Bears didn't have anyone to push the tackles last season with Omiyale as the third option. Webb has not played well enough to be handed the starting job again outright. At tackle, Williams could compete for that job and provide insurance for Carimi. In his first season starting in 2009, Williams played 11 games at right tackle.
At the minimum, Williams gives the Bears a third option, which they must have.
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