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posted: 8/13/2012 8:17 PM

Tice wants to see more from Bears' O-line

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  • Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice says he will have trouble sleeping at night until he knows that his line can protect quarterback Jay Cutler, right.

      Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice says he will have trouble sleeping at night until he knows that his line can protect quarterback Jay Cutler, right.
    Associated Press

 
 

BOURBONNAIS -- Despite the Bears' ongoing and so-far-fruitless search for someone who can protect quarterback Jay Cutler's blind side, it's not all bad news on the offensive line.

True, the developments at left tackle have been disappointing.

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But it's not as if the Bears are lining up five Pillsbury Doughboys in front of the quarterback, even though it may have appeared that way in Thursday's preseason-opening 31-3 loss to the Denver Broncos.

"I felt like physically we got our butts kicked," said Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice. "I think it was evident, more so with some guys than others.

"I didn't feel that we did enough physically to make any kind of a statement. The biggest disappointment of all of it was that we didn't run the ball well (36 yards on 21 carries).

"I thought from Day One that we were going to be able to run the ball when we wanted to run the ball, (but) we didn't do a good job."

J'Marcus Webb, who essentially was handed the left-tackle job, gave it back with his play against the Broncos, allowing a sack and failing to display a lack of urgency or the required aggressiveness.

Chris Williams is back in the competition, but he hasn't taken the position by storm.

"I felt like Chris had a solid game, and I didn't feel like the other player was up to par as far as the standards we're trying to set at protecting our quarterback," Tice said.

"So we were going to make sure that we continue to see who's going to emerge there as the guy."

So far Webb is emerging as a player who is difficult to coach, one who appears in danger of exhausting Tice's patience.

When a reporter informed the offensive coordinator that Webb seems to have a swagger about him, Tice replied: "I wonder why?"

Tice believes either Webb or Williams can get the job done in the run game, but Job 1 at left tackle is keeping the quarterback upright.

"I have trouble sleeping at night until I know that our quarterback is protected," Tice said. "You have to make sure we are protecting our quarterback."

Left guard Chris Spencer also disappointed Tice with his opening act, and he, too, allowed a sack.

"Grade-wise for us last season, he had the second-highest grade," Tice said of Spencer. "(So) I was very surprised.

"It was not a good tape to watch, and Chris knows this. We spoke about that. It's not a tape you want on your resume."

But 12-year veteran Roberto Garza is steady and reliable at center, and Tice believes the right side of the line is going to be a strength, especially after tackle Gabe Carimi takes the final short strides in his return from last year's knee surgery.

"There were some guys that went out and competed with great tenacity," Tice said of the preseason opener. "(Right guard) Lance Louis, for example. I don't think we're going to find that he's going to back down from anybody this season.

"Carimi's going to compete and, as his legs come underneath him more and more, he's going to show up on the plus side for us.

"When we get guys like Lance Louis and Carimi, and you put those guys together on the right side, you should be formidable in the run game."

As for the next phase of the left-tackle competition, Tice may use both Webb and Williams with the first team when the Bears face the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field in Saturday's second preseason game.

"We want to make sure we have some type of rotation where both guys are going against their good rushers," Tice said. "The problem is: How much are (premier pass rushers) 98 (Brian Orakpo) and 91 (Ryan Kerrigan) going to play?

"We certainly want to make sure both guys get some action against 98 and 91. That's very important for us in our evaluation process."

The performances by Webb and Williams will go a long way toward determining the opening-day starter.

rlegere@dailyherald.com

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