Webb's demotion may be permanent
August, 13, 2013
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhJ'Marcus Webb may find himself fighting for a roster spot if rookie Jordan Mills excels at right tackle.BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears claim the recent demotion of right tackle J'Marcus Webb was simply a planned move to get him more repetitions on the second team at left tackle, but signs point to the switch becoming permanent.
With the Bears set to host San Diego on Thursday, rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Mills is slated to start in Webb's right tackle spot, with the veteran backing up Jermon Bushrod at left tackle.
"If he's going to be on our team, if he makes our eight (offensive linemen that make the 53-man roster), then he's going to have to play more than one spot, and this is an opportunity for him to get those reps," said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. "You don't want to have to do it on Wednesday of game week. You want to do it early in the season so he has a feel for what's going on."
Since the club is executing a new offense with blocking schemes that are different than what the veterans are accustomed to, it would seem important for the Bears to get the starters as many repetitions as possible in the spots they'll be playing once the regular season rolls around in an effort to maximize cohesion along the offensive line. Starting center Roberto Garza isn't taking snaps at guard as a contingency plan in case a starter at that position goes down to injury. Bushrod isn't spending time working on the right side.
When starting guard Matt Slauson takes repetitions at center, the snaps at that position are always limited.
Webb, meanwhile, is working with the second team for the second consecutive day.
"I think we've been very clear with J'Marcus about what we're doing. I said it last week that there's been an up-and-down performance level by J'Marcus, but we were still going to do this," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "We were still going to give work to the other guys and see what they could do, as well. So we'll evaluate it. We were going to go through the week like this. We'll evaluate the game (against San Diego) and move forward into Oakland."
If Mills puts together a strong performance against the Chargers on Thursday, Webb could ultimately find himself fighting for a roster spot.
Mills will be paired with 2013 first-round pick Kyle Long in the starting lineup Thursday on the right side of the line, and Trestman has been encouraged by what he's seen from the rookies.
"We are excited about what they have done," Trestman said. "We see it every day against some of the best defensive linemen in the league. So we're excited to see how that transitions over to Soldier Field on Thursday night."
Veterans Eben Britton and Jonathan Scott also figure into the derby for the starting job at right tackle.
Britton is currently working with the second team on the right side, and he possesses the versatility to move inside to guard. Scott has missed a good portion of camp due to knee soreness. But Trestman said medical personnel recently drained fluid from Scott's knee and "it looks like it's gotten better."
"We should see some movement in the right direction in the next few days and the next week," Trestman said. "He was actually with the doctors today."
As for Webb, he's not disappointed by the demotion and admitted he's "not totally sure" he'll be the starter at right tackle on Sept. 8, when the Bears host the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular-season opener.
"They definitely want to give me looks at both sides. You've got to be versatile in this offense," Webb said. "One of the things I get to work on this week is being versatile and playing next to different guys. I'm willing to help at any position on the offensive line, the tackle position, definitely. I'll take a look at film and focus on getting better and utilizing my offensive line to beat the San Diego Chargers."