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Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Bears shake up offensive line -- again

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

A few weeks ago, we started discussing the possible ramifications of Chicago Bears left tackle Chris Williams' return from a hamstring injury. But I don't think any of us anticipated how it ultimately played out.

Williams will get a spot in the starting lineup this week against the Seattle Seahawks, but it won't be at left tackle. Instead, he'll be at left guard while starter Roberto Garza recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune first reported the story.

We may never know what would have happened if Garza were healthy. Would Williams still have replaced Garza? Would he have returned to left tackle or been left on the bench? The job of offensive line coach Mike Tice is to get his best five linemen on the field if at all possible, and for this week, those five include Frank Omiyale at right tackle, Edwin Williams at right guard and rookie J'Marcus Webb at right tackle.

It will be the fourth different combination of offensive linemen in five games for the Bears, and no one knows if it will be the last. Tice told reporters that "at this stage in his career, [Chris Williams] is a better run blocker than he is pass protector." That's not a statement that suggests this is a one-week assignment.

Williams had some experience playing guard at Vanderbilt, but he was the No. 14 overall pick of the 2008 draft because the Bears projected him as their long-term answer at left tackle. It's one thing to use a veteran backup as a swing player, but to use your 25-year-old left tackle in that role raises some interesting questions about the future.

Though as we've discussed before, the Bears aren't worried about the future in 2010. It's now or never. And for now, it means Chris Williams as their starting left guard.