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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Since the entire NFL offseason program is conducted without pads, it's difficult to gauge the performances of offensive and defensive linemen in OTA and minicamp type settings. But in regards to the Bears' offensive line, it has become clear that Chris Williams and J'Marcus Webb are in competition for the team's starting left-tackle job. At this point, the right tackle spot earmarked for Gabe Carimi, if the former first-round pick stays healthy.
|Chris Williams, a former first-round pick, is shifting from guard to left tackle.|
Just as in OTAs, Williams and Webb splits reps a left tackle on Day 1 of the Bears' mandatory three-day minicamp -- although Williams began each drill with the first team before being subbed out for Webb.
"Everything is going good," Webb said Tuesday of the competition. "We're both taking advantage of getting better every day. The reps between me and Chris, you know, we're just switching it out every other one. Nothing to be worried about. Just need to get better and focus on what I need to focus on.'
"It definitely has my head turned but nothing more nothing less. It's not a negative at all. I definitely take his expertise into account every time I come onto the field. We work together and that's what we have to do as a unit."
A seventh-round pick by the Bears in 2010, Webb cracked the starting lineup 12 times as a rookie at right tackle before switching to the left side last season, where he started all 16 games. Webb's struggles in the pass-protection department have been well documented, but the Bears resisted the idea of addressing the tackle position in either the draft of free agency, and instead opted to move Williams back outside from guard to compete with Webb.
"I need to take advantage of this offseason because I've never had one," Webb said. "I want to focus on my game in general, my technique, my footwork, my hands, my feet and my overall knowledge of the game."
The hope is the switch in offensive philosophy will make things easier for the offensive tackles. With fewer seven-step drops and more help given on the outside in the form of extra blockers, the Bears should be able to do a better job protecting quarterback Jay Cutler, who has been sacked 110 times since arriving in Chicago in 2009.
"(Offensive coordinator Mike) Tice definitely wanted us to take advantage of this offseason to go over our new offense over and over and over again," Webb said. "We've really studied it. I think that's really going to help us in terms of the offensive line, we should be really explosive."