LINK to the article Chicago Bears' Lance Louis hopes he’s on road to respectability
Lance Louis admits he’s taken plenty of heat the past two years, but so have most of the linemen for the Chicago Bears. From the fans, media, and even the team’s coaches.
“It is what it is,” was how offensive coordinator Mike Tice recently described his current line.
After giving up 105 sacks the past two years, who could blame any of them for worrying.
“I understand,” Louis said, “exactly where they’re coming from.”
But Louis’ road to respectability may have been the sketchiest of all. Just last year alone he lost his starting job because of an injury, won it back, lost it again, shifted to a new position because of injury, and eventually filled in nicely at right tackle.
Now, he’s slotted as the team’s starting right guard, and he feels he’s ready to stop the crazy roller-coaster ride and become a consistently solid NFL offensive lineman.
“I’m still really young to the O-line, but I’m catching on to things in my fourth year,” Louis said. “My awareness is up and my confidence is up. I just want to go out and compete.”
Like this year, Louis began last season as the starting right guard, but missed Week 2 with an ankle injury, and was then replaced by new Bear Chris Spencer. When rookie Gabe Carimi went down with a knee injury that second week, and veteran Frank Omiyale proved to be incapable of filling the void at right tackle, Louis slipped in.
He played every snap there for the final 11 games of the season, helping the Bears eclipse the 2,000-yard rushing mark (2,015) for just the second time in 21 years. Chicago’s pass protection got better, according to quarterback Jay Cutler, down the stretch as well.
By the end of an 8-8 season, the Bears allowed 87 QB hits, which was the fifth most, and the sixth most sacks (49) in the league. But that was after sitting on the bottom two spots in both categories throughout the first six weeks.
But still, the line was the most talked about question mark throughout the entire offseason. The Bears signed Chilo Rachel in the offseason, but did little else to bolster the unit.
Now, nearly three weeks into the exhibition season, they are still letting J’Marcus Webb and Chris Williams duke it out for the starting left-tackle spot. They’ve even added a little battle for the left guard spot, with Spencer slipping a bit early on in the preseason, and Rachel trying to prove he belongs with the starters.
“Let’s face it,” Tice said this week, “Spencer bounced back this week, but he wasn’t stellar in the opener.”
And a lot is riding on this line. Quarterback Jay Cutler is coming off a season-ending thumb injury — and one of the best stretches on the field of his career — and he has a lot of weapons to throw to. Brandon Marshall came over via free agency and Chicago drafted Alshon Jeffery, adding to Earl Bennett and Devin Hester.
Louis is taking it upon himself to help make it all better.
“I have to play well,” Louis added. “That’s that. I can’t say that enough.”
Profile: Lance Louis Age:
San Diego State Size:
6-foot-3, 320 pounds Position:
Seventh round of 2009 draft Roller-coaster ride:
Dressed for only three games his rookie year; saw action in 16 games, starting four of them to open the season in 2010; started last season at right guard, injury to ankle bumped him back to No. 2, took over for injured Gabe Carimi and inept Frank Omiyale and started last 11 games at right tackle; is slotted as starter at right guard for 2012.