Williams to LT highlights OL shuffling

May, 23, 2012
5/23/12
4:38
PM ET
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears offensive line took on multiple looks Wednesday during organized team activities at Halas Hall, leaving uncertainty about where the pieces will eventually fit.

[+] EnlargeChris Williams
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesChris Williams lined up at left tackle during Wednesday's workouts at Halas Hall.
Even quarterback Jay Cutler intimated that veteran center Roberto Garza appears to be the only player up front with his job secured for 2012.

“Right now, it’s hard to tell,” Cutler said. “The new CBA limits what we’re able to do until training camp. So (we) can’t really get a good look at those guys, and I don’t think it would be fair to any of those guys competing to say where they’re at until we get in camp, get the pads on to see and we see what we’ve got. I think all those guys except for ‘Garz’ have a chance to compete and at the end of the day, we’ll see what best five we have.”

The team definitely kicked off the search during Wednesday’s session, and as expected veteran Chris Williams -- a starter the last two years at left guard -- moved over to left tackle, where he took first-team reps along with J’Marcus Webb. It’s apparent there’s a position battle brewing at left tackle, and it’s likely the loser in the derby takes on the swing role.

Originally drafted in 2008 to be the left tackle of the future, Williams missed the last seven games of 2011 with a wrist injury, but expressed excitement about finally taking the field with the rest of his teammates.


“I like to think I can play anywhere (on the line), so I’m just working; just glad to be back with the team,” Williams said. “It’s just fun being out here after missing the last half of the season.”

Williams won’t be the only holdover from the offensive line adjusting to a new position. A career center, 2011 free agent acquisition Chris Spencer started 14 games last season at right guard, but has since moved over to the left side. Lance Louis, who started the 11 last games last season at right tackle, will move back to his customary right guard spot.

Spencer received news he’d be moving to left guard shortly after April’s NFL draft, and admitted the switch has been somewhat of an adjustment.

“You’re coming out of a left-handed stance,” Spencer said. “It changes what you’re used to. Trying to change the stance over, get your footwork down, and just working on making your arm leg your power leg; it just takes some time to get used to.”

Garza remained the only consistent fixture at his position during workouts Wednesday, with Edwin Williams taking reps as the backup.

With Gabe Carimi out indefinitely as he recovers from knee surgery, the Bears worked veteran Mansfield Wrotto with the first team at right tackle, but also ran plays with A.J. Greene and Tyler Hendrickson in that spot.

Wrotton played tackle in college at Georgia Tech, but has spent his entire NFL career at guard.

It’s likely the Bears simply used Carimi’s absence as an opportunity to look at multiple players for potential depth.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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