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It's been rumored for much of the offseason, but this Q&A with Chicago offensive coordinator Ron Turner is the first place I've seen anyone from the Bears say they expect Chris Williams to be their starting left tackle in 2009.
The former first-round draft pick underwent back surgery last August, scuttling his chances to start as a rookie. He returned in time to play in nine games as a reserve or on special teams. But in an interview with the Bears' Web site, Turner gave every indication that Williams will be working with the first team offense during offseason workouts. Here's the text of his full answer:
"Yes, I definitely see him starting at left tackle. He's shown what we thought we were going to see from a first-round pick. He's extremely athletic. He's very intelligent and has good instincts. He's a good football player. He had the back injury, and coming back from that halfway through the season and then trying to get into football shape, he made strides every week. But with an offseason, he's going to be a very good player."
The only surprise about this revelation is that Turner didn't use any of the coachspeak that typically arises in such situations. Young players aren't often handed starting positions, but in this case the Bears aren't playing any games.
It's not like they have a ton of choices. Last season's left tackle, John St. Clair, is a career journeyman and also a pending free agent. But as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times points out, tackle could still be a draft target for the Bears considering right tackle John Tait's advancing years.