Bears have options if Louis can't go


LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears have a few options at right guard if Lance Louis is forced to miss time with a sprained right ankle he suffered in the 30-12 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Veteran Chris Spencer, one of the two reserve offensive linemen to dress Sunday, came off the bench to replace Louis despite receiving limited practice reps at guard. Although Spencer is considered a better fit at center -- the position he started the bulk of his career with the Seattle Seahawks -- the Bears could decide to keep Spencer at guard and Roberto Garza at center Sunday in New Orleans.

"It's tough losing a guy like Lance, but hopefully he'll be back soon," Garza said Monday. "Spencer did a great job. He had limited reps at guard, but that's what you get when you have a veteran guy who's been around and knows how to play football."

The Bears signed Spencer to a two-year deal in free agency after the Seahawks made no attempt to bring back their former first-round pick. Many believed Spencer's arrival would allow the Bears to shift Garza back to right guard, a position he manned almost exclusively the six previous seasons in Chicago. But it never happened. Instead, Garza continued to draw praise for his work at center from quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive line coach Mike Tice, while Spencer failed to crack the starting lineup.

However, Bears coach Lovie Smith said Monday he discussed the possibility of moving Garza over to guard when Louis was forced to leave the game.

"Sure, (we gave) a lot of thought to that," Smith said. "Of course Roberto was a starter at guard for us and can play center. Chris came in here primarily as a center, that's why we are really pleased with what he was able to do. He hasn't gotten a lot of reps at the guard position, most have been at the center position. Chris jumped right in and did a pretty good job for a guy who hasn't gotten a lot of reps. If Lance can't go this week, of course we'll have decisions to make, but at least it gives us flexibility when two of our players have played both positions."

Backup guard/center Edwin Williams, inactive in Week 1, may also be in the mix to replace Louis at right guard against the Saints. Williams started three games for the Bears last season, and made a pair of starts for Washington in 2009.

"He got better this year and is a guy we can count on," Garza said of Williams. "Obviously, he's on the active roster and is a guy who played a couple games for us last year. We'll see what happens."