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updated: 8/8/2012 8:28 PM

Bears' Webb to get first look at left tackle

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BOURBONNAIS -- If there's one certainty about the Bears' offense, it's that coordinator Mike Tice will not sugarcoat the situation.

The offensive line, which he coached last season and with which he remains intimately involved, is still a work in progress.

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J'Marcus Webb is the starter at left tackle after a challenge from Chris Williams, who was forced to take numerous snaps at right tackle to spell Gabe Carimi, who is coming back from knee surgery.

"You've got to play the hand you're dealt," Tice said. "You make a decision and you go with it. I wasn't going to put (undrafted rookie) James Brown or (inexperienced first-year player) Cory Brandon over there (at right tackle) to protect Jay Cutler. We have enough trouble doing it with the ones."

So Webb and Carimi will start Thursday with center Roberto Garza, left guard Chris Spencer and right guard Lance Louis.

"For now we're going to put those five guys in there and let them work together and see if they can jell," said Tice, who is committed to giving Cutler better protection than he received the previous two seasons.

"I am an offensive line coach," said Tice, who has spent more time in that role than any other during his 16 years as an NFL coach. "We're going to make sure we're not embarrassing anybody or hurting our quarterback. If we have a guy that we are not matching up well against, we're going to make sure that guy has two guys on him throughout the course of the game. That's just the way it's going to be."

Can't let go:

In last year's training camp, quarterback Jay Cutler clicked with undrafted rookie wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher almost from the beginning.

Cutler continues to be impressed by Sanzenbacher, who is fighting a difficult battle to remain on the team.

"You watch the film on Dane, and you have to keep him, from a quarterback's perspective," Cutler said. "I know there are numbers, and he's got to contribute with (special teams coordinator) Dave (Toub) and that group, but every single day he's coming out here, and he's catching balls, and he's doing what he's supposed to do. He's going to be hard to let go if we have to."

Sad story:

Eagles head coach Andy Reid gave Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub his first NFL job and remains a close friend. So Toub was shaken by the death of Reid's 29-year-old son Garrett last week. Reid returned to work on Wednesday, the day after his son's funeral.

"It's very sad," Toub said. "I can't even imagine something like that happening to me. I don't even know how I would handle it."

Toub said he spoke with Reid last week.

"We contacted each other and got back and forth," he said. "I owe him a lot. I was sad I couldn't be there (for the funeral), but I did talk to him."

Roster reduction:

Tight end Draylen Ross, who spent most of his time in camp working with the fullbacks, was waived Wednesday. The 6-foot-4, 271-pound Ross spent the last nine weeks of the 2011 season on the practice squad after signing with the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of North Texas.

The roster stands at 89, one below the limit. Rosters must be reduced to 75 by Aug. 27 and to the final 53 by Aug. 31.

Brown going out a Bear:

After nine NFL seasons, Alex Brown is retiring as a Bear. Brown signed a one-day contract with the Bears Wednesday so he could retire as a member of the Bears organization.

Brown spent eight seasons in a Bears uniform after being selected in the fourth round (104th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida. His 43.5 career sacks as a member of the Bears are fourth most in franchise history.

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