Chicago Bears: guards

Bears free agency preview: Guards

February, 1, 2013
2/01/13
10:55
AM ET
ESPNChicago examines potential unrestricted free agents at positions of need for the Bears.

Louis Vasquez Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesLouis Vasquez would be a viable option for the Bears on the free-agent market.

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Most offensive guards are anonymous figures outside of their respective NFL cities, but don't underestimate the importance of the position. Teams that get solid play from their interior offensive line are able to be more creative and more successful in the run game, plus provide better pass protection up the middle, which allows the quarterback to step up in the pocket and deliver the football with more accuracy.

The Bears thought they were set at guard heading into the 2012 regular season, but a rash of injuries (Lance Louis, Chris Spencer), coupled with Chilo Rachal going AWOL, depleted the unit to the point where not only did former first-round pick Gabe Carimi have to bounce inside after he lost his starting right tackle, but the club was forced to play undrafted rookie free agent James Brown the final three games of the year.

The outlook for guard next year hinges on several factors, starting with Louis' recovery from the torn ACL he suffered in late November versus the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. Louis is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, and before the injury, he was easily the best offensive lineman on the Bears' roster. Re-signing Louis, who continues to rehab at Halas Hall, would ease some of the concern inside, but not all of it, especially since it's unclear when exactly Louis will be able to get back on the field.

But that's just one of several questions the Bears face.

Brown has potential, but is it too early to pencil him in for a starting job with just three career starts? Is Carimi a guard or a tackle? Is Carimi even a starter moving forward? Does the team consider bringing back Spencer, also an unrestricted free agent, for the sake of depth? Is Edwin Williams still in the mix?

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