Bears OL Season Preview
|Tuesday, July 19, 2022, 10:53 AM- -|
Next on our season preview position list is often the most overlooked position, but quite possibly the most important. That position is the offensive line. If not for this position, Justin Fields wouldn't be able to throw the football, and David Montgomery wouldn't be able to run the football.
Over the past few seasons, the offensive line has been the Bears weakness, but they did a great job of not only getting younger, but starting to invest some serious cash to make sure they would get better. That was one of Ryan Poles' main focuses when taking over the GM role, and for the most part, he has done a great job retooling the offensive line unit.
The question now becomes how this unit will play together? Bears fans will soon find out as training camp and preseason is right around the corner. Starting with the tackle position, and this is where you will find the most significant concern, not because the players are bad, but mainly because of the youth that comes with them.
Second Year pro Teven Jenkins was supposed to play a huge role last season after being drafted in the second round, but injuries derailed any thought of contributing as a rookie. Now fully healthy, Jenkins has been practicing at both tackle positions, although right tackle appears to be the one that he will stick at.
Fellow second-year man Larry Borom was lucky enough to get on the field last season, but still only played sparingly. He is in a similar position to Jenkins, where he has bounced around both tackle positions, seeing the bulk of his time at left tackle. Rookie Braxton Jones has also seen time at left tackle in camp and has been turning a lot of heads. Regardless of what combination Matt Eberflus goes with, the Bears will be young and inexperienced, but will only get better as the season progresses.
The Bears wanted to get tougher up front this offseason, which is precisely what they did at the center position. One of Poles' big offseason pickups was acquiring Lucas Patrick, who brings the nasty demeanor this team is looking for.
The former Green Bay Packer knows he is viewed as a jerk type of player and embodies that to become a better player. The physicality and toughness that he brings to the table will rub off on other guys, and if this entire unit follows suit, no one will want to play these guys up front.
Another position to focus on this season will be the guard position, but unlike the tackle position, this area is not about youth. Instead, the Bears have several players capable of playing guard, and it becomes a matter of who gets those two spots.
Watch Cody Whitehair as the favorite to land the left guard position as this will be his seventh season with the team. Whitehair came into the league as a guard, moved to center, and then back to guard, as his versatility has always been a plus for this team. He is another veteran leader that this team can depend on and is one of the few holdovers from not only Matt Nagy's staff but also John Fox.
Another former center who has shown his versatility will be Sam Mustipher, who will be moving to right guard with the addition of Patrick at center. This could be one of the more significant moves this season, as he can be a pro-bowl caliber guard, but this is a new position for him to play.
While these may be the main guys expected to start this season, the Bears will still have a great mix of rookies, youth, and veteran talent, all capable of seeing time across the line. That means from the competition side of things, practices should be intense as everyone wants to lock down one of these five spots.
With competition comes improved play as that competition will bring out the best in everyone every day. This is a big season for the Bears as the new regime wants to send a message that this is not the same old Bears. That starts up front as this team is tougher, better, and ready to take off.