Bears ready to settle O-line jobs

Updated: August 20, 2012, 7:28 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears plan to work J'Marcus Webb at left tackle with the starters Saturday when the team faces the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, but the competition for the starting job remains in full effect, said offensive coordinator Mike Tice.

Tice estimates the game Saturday will determine the winner of the starting left tackle job between Webb and Chris Williams as well as the starter at left guard, where Chris Spencer and Chilo Rachal continue to compete.

"Let's face it: this is gonna be the week (that determines the starter at left tackle)," Tice said, laughing. "We'll all know when we watch the game. You guys can text me and tell me who it should be."

With the Bears facing a Giants defense that sacked quarterback Jay Cutler an NFL-record nine times in a half back during a 2010 massacre, Tice figures he'll learn more about where the offense stands against Saturday's opponent "than the Little Sisters of the Poor," he said.

"You want to go out there and play the best because it calluses you," Tice explained. "It makes you tough, not only physically, but mentally. You really get a chance to evaluate your players. A 34 defense (such as what the Bears faced in their win Saturday over the Washington Redskins) is a 34 defense. Eventually, at the end of the day, your tackles are blocking big linebackers. So now, you want to see them against some real large, athletic, strong defensive ends."

Tice said Webb and Williams "both played well" against the Redskins, while also pointing out that "Spencer bounced back this week, but he wasn't stellar in the opener." After the club's 31-3 loss in the opener to the Denver Broncos, Tice offered blunt criticism of Webb and Spencer.

But at this point, it appears both hold advantages over counterparts Williams and Rachal in their respective position battles. Against the Redskins, Tice made it a point to work in Williams and Rachal on offense at the same time. Tice did the same with Webb and Spencer.

Based on Tice's assessments, it appears the only jobs set up front are center Roberto Garza, right guard Lance Louis and right tackle Gabe Carimi. Tice expressed concern about Carimi's healing knee, saying "we want him to stay on track." But the practice on field turf at the Walter Payton Center on Monday, and Saturday's outing at MetLife Stadium -- another artificial surface -- could put stress on the right tackle's knee.

The ultimate goal at the end of Saturday, Tice said, is to take a step close toward "(making) sure we put the right five guys in there to go out and challenge Indianapolis (in Week 1)."

"We're playing some real men this week," Tice said. "We'll see how it goes."

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter