Friday, June 27, 2014
Pre-camp check: Offensive tackles
By Michael C. Wright
Overview: Rising second-year right tackle Jordan Mills believes the Bears are “very close” to fielding a Super Bowl offense, and that is not merely overconfidence. Because in the next breath, Mills is quick to say there is "not one thing I do great or good enough that I don’t need to work on." He constantly asks, "What can I do to become a great player, a great teammate and help this team?"
That attitude, it seems, has become contagious for the entire offense, not just the offensive line and could serve the team well in its quest to improve upon last season. Obviously, one major component in the offense’s improvement came as the result of better protection provided by Mills and left tackle Jermon Bushrod.
In 2013, quarterback Jay Cutler suffered the fewest sacks of his tenure with the Chicago Bears.
With Busrod and Mills penciled in once again as the starters at tackle for 2014, the hopes is the sack numbers will drop even more.
"We’re gonna be tested," Mills said.
Battle to watch: Credit general manager Phil Emery for stocking the roster with so much depth at offensive tackle from the top of the depth chart to the bottom. It is expected that Eben Britton will seize the top backup role on the right side, but the left side is up for grabs now that Jonathan Scott is no longer with the team. Seventh-round pick Charles Leno Jr. could find himself battling with Joe Long, Michael Ola and perhaps James Brown for that spot. The runner-up in that battle could wind up still making the roster as a backup.
Dark horse: Britton finally feels completely healthy after an injury-plagued start to his career in Jacksonville, and it showed last season when he was given opportunities to play. Britton served as the second tight end in some formations, but also received time on the line in various situations. The club likes Mills, and believes he has a bright future as the starting right tackle. But if Mills is slowed in his recovery from a broken foot during training camp, there is a chance Britton could seriously contend for a starting spot.
Who makes the cut: Bushrod, Britton and Mills, would appear to be locks to make the team. Long and Leno could wind up with the final two spots, but remember that Ola has experience with Trestman as the two worked together with the Montreal Alouettes.