Battle for Bears' left tackle job is back on
Williams shares first-team reps with Webb
By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter 7:08 p.m. CDT, August 11, 2012
BOURBONNAIS — The Bears returned to practice Saturday and reignited a competition that ended two weeks ago by moving Chris Williams back to left tackle.
The former first-round draft pick shared first-team reps with J'Marcus Webb as Williams lined up at left tackle for the first time in 14 days. Coach Lovie Smith said "all positions are open," and while that surely isn't the case, it sure looks like the grip Webb had on the job is weakening.
The Bears played Webb into the fourth quarter of Thursday's 31-3 exhibition-opening loss to the Broncos at Soldier Field, a highly unusual move for a veteran. Webb responded by releasing a statement through his agent Saturday morning, affirming his commitment to work hard and calling the lengthy outing "preparation for our winning season."
It certainly hasn't been what you are accustomed to watching in a position battle.
Webb and Williams opened training camp rotating days with the starters. Williams got two days in full pads with the first team before he was abruptly switched to right tackle to take some of the workload off Gabe Carimi's right knee, but one that ostensibly ended the competition. Williams couldn't compete to play at left tackle, where he hasn't played in a game since the second week of 2010, backing up Carimi.
"I have always had a fair shot," Williams said of the competition. "I just come to work. Come Week 1, we'll have the best five guys out there. It will all work itself out. Obviously, they wanted me at right tackle for a reason. I just go to work."
Williams didn't want to look into the latest development any further, and if Webb was surprised, he didn't show it.
"Not at all," he said. "It's definitely something (Smith) felt they needed to do. Whatever the Bears organization needs me to do, I am going to do and do it with a smile on my face."
Webb said film review from the game went well. He was on the field for 41 of the 49 offensive snaps. Where this heads from now remains to be seen. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice will not meet with media until Monday, but when camp opened he said he wanted to make a decision as quickly as possible.
Now, you wonder if a selection might be delayed until before the third exhibition game Aug. 24 at the Giants. If it's truly an open competition, Williams will have to get time with the starters Saturday when the Bears play host to the Redskins.
Williams also got extended playing time against the Broncos and said his game tape held up.
"I did OK," he said. "There is stuff to work on. It was the first preseason game and it was good to get out there. It was fun. After getting hurt last year and going on IR, it was just fun to get back on the field at Soldier Field and play in front of the fans."
He said he didn't realize how much he missed playing when recovering from wrist surgery until he got back into game action, even if it was an exhibition game.
"It's tough," he said. "They shut you down on IR and you get to OTAs and minicamp, all of that stuff is whatever. When you get back in front of the fans, it's on. Now, I am just working."
And Williams is working at left tackle, meaning the Bears are not convinced of their combination on the offensive line.