Regardless of whom the Bears wind up starting on their depleted offensive line this week, the burden for guiding the attack ultimately falls on quarterback Jay Cutler.
But at least the burden of blocking for Cutler last week didn't fall on the Bears' 6-foot-7 offensive coordinator Mike Tice. For a while, it seemed as if it might.
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"I thought I was going to have to suit up," said Tice, who played tight end in the NFL for 14 seasons. "Thank God for the Bears I didn't. It could have been worse."
But Tice's play-calling, along with Cutler's play-making and game-managing skills, and continued production from wide receiver Brandon Marshall all will be crucial as the beat-up O-line tries to keep its act together.
It will be challenged this week by an outstanding Seattle Seahawks defense that's No. 3 in points and No. 5 in yards allowed.
"I have to get rid of the ball," Cutler said. "And coach Tice has got to dial up some good plays and keep those (offensive linemen) protected, throw a lot of different looks at the (Seahawks') defensive line and the secondary.
"We have to get B (Marshall) going. Hopefully we get Matt Forte going a little bit. It's a collective (effort), but I drive the thing, so I have to get off to a fast start."
Expectations are the Bears will start up front vs. the Seahawks the same way they finished against Minnesota.
"Of course one option is to start the game just how we finished the last one," coach Lovie Smith said. "But we have a week to work all of that out."
Veteran free-agent interior lineman Andre Gurode, a five-time Pro Bowler who has not played this season, was added to the roster Tuesday. It's unrealistic to believe he could step in as a starter this quickly.
Chris Spencer started at left guard vs. the Vikings, but he suffered a knee injury and did not practice Wednesday, so Edwin Williams is likely to remain there.
Former right tackle Gabe Carimi worked Wednesday with the first team at right guard, where he finished Sunday after Lance Louis suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee. Carimi performed well, even though he had never played guard.
"It's one spot in," said Carimi, who started the first 10 games of the season at right tackle before being benched last week for inconsistent play in passing situations. But the 2010 first-round draft pick admitted the move is a major transition.
"Everything is quicker," Carimi said. "The steps are different. There are a lot of different things with it."
At 6-foot-7, Carimi's taller than most NFL guards, but the 6-3 Cutler says he can deal with it.
"I don't care if he's 6-10," Cutler said. "If he does his job, I'll find a way."
There is some continuity up front. Center Roberto Garza and left tackle J'Marcus will remain where they have started every game this season. Jonathan Scott will get his second straight start at Carimi's old spot.
"We'll see how it shakes out," Cutler said. "If Gabe has to play (guard), it's not like he hasn't been playing all year, so he's got a good feel, and Edwin has played in there before for us."
The offense started out conservatively last week and stayed that way throughout the 28-10 victory.
More of the same is expected this week, especially with the O-line in transition. Long pass plays that require seven-step drops and put Cutler at risk probably won't be part of the game plan.
"We just have to be careful with what we ask those guys to do," Cutler said of the linemen. "You don't want to throw a lot of sevens and chuck the ball 40, 50 times. They're not programmed for that; we just have to be smart with it."
That's especially true early in games, where the Bears have stumbled several times this season.
"We're going to probably make sure the rest of the way out that we're careful early in the games," Tice said. "We've had some bad starts. We don't want to come out and shoot ourselves in the foot early.
"So we can manage some of those calls and make sure we don't put ourselves in harm's way with some of the earlier calls."