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Saturday, August 27, 2011
If Louis falters, Williams could be next

By Michael C. Wright

Roberto Garza
The Bears' offensive line will remain under intense scrutiny Saturday vs. the Titans.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Chicago Bears' offensive line remains under heavy scrutiny by the coaching staff for Saturday's preseason matchup with the Tennessee Titans at LP Field in the third preseason game, widely considered the closest to a real outing the team plays until the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

So while the staff prefers to not make changes up front, contingency plans still exist should one or multiple members of the line falter Saturday night against the Titans.

Currently manned by third-year veteran Lance Louis, right guard remains the position up front most under scrutiny. Louis was hampered somewhat throughout the week with a shin injury, and if he fails to perform against the Titans, the Bears, according to an NFL source, are strongly considering playing Edwin Williams in that spot.

Williams started three games last season in Louis' place, before eventually giving way to Roberto Garza on Nov. 7.

It's also worth noting that offensive line coach Mike Tice has effusively praised Williams' performance over the first two preseason outings.

According to another source, the Bears remain confident in Garza at center, which means Chris Spencer will stay a backup for right now. The staff has been encouraged by the progress made by Spencer, who is still becoming more accustomed to the team's bruising style of run blocking, but it isn't yet sold on the seven-year veteran's ability as a potential starter.

Second-year man J'Marcus Webb appeared to solidify his status as the starter at left tackle with a strong outing last week against the New York Giants. Tice has said Webb and left guard Chris Williams are the only “elite athletes” among the starting linemen, with Williams and rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi playing the most consistently throughout the preseason.

Webb's athleticism likely gives him a pass if he doesn't perform well against the Titans, but the club wants to see him duplicate last week's performance. Veteran Frank Omiyale remains an option at left tackle, but the Bears will be reluctant to insert him into the lineup without giving Webb ample time to develop.