- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Friday night’s third preseason game against the New York Giants will give Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice one final chance to evaluate the left side of the offensive line versus one of the best pass rushes in the NFL.
While the bulk of the focus has been directed toward the battle at left tackle between J’Marcus Webb and Chris Williams, Tice has steadily turned up the heat on starting left guard Chris Spencer in the wake of Spencer’s poor preseason debut against the Denver Broncos on Aug. 9. Despite the fact Spencer finished last season with the second-highest grade of any Bears’ offensive lineman, the converted center is being challenged by fifth-year veteran guard Chilo Rachal, who was signed to a one-year deal in the offseason.
Although a minor injury kept Rachal on the sidelines for several days leading up to the Redskins game, he and Williams were on the field together at various points with the rest of the members of the Bears’ first unit. Tice said Monday he plans to use a similar rotation when the team travels to the New York area for Friday's game.
“I can always get better in some areas, but I feel I played pretty aggressive, strong,” Rachal said. “That’s what I critique my game after is being a mauler. But like I said, there’s always room for improvement.
“I just picked up the system recently, but as far as bonding with the guys, I think we’re getting along pretty good. My thing was just coming from a different system and learning different terminology, stuff like that, so it’s been pretty good. I’m always ready. When my number’s called, I go out and help my team the best way I can. That’s why I prepare hard every day. I work so in the event that they do need me, I can step right in and won’t miss a beat.”
Rachal started 38 games at right guard the past four seasons for a San Francisco 49ers offense that produced three 1,000-yard rushing seasons for tailback Frank Gore. Originally a second-round choice of the 49ers out of USC, the 6-foot-5, 323-pound Rachal is known for his physical play along the interior of the offensive line.
Rachal smiled when asked if Tice appreciates his nasty style of play.
“Most definitely,” Rachal said. “I try to let that speak for itself.”