Bears' Williams built to anchor right side of line

  • First-round draft pick Chris Williams, shown here at minicamp in May, needs every preseason snap he can get to prove he's ready to play every day.

      First-round draft pick Chris Williams, shown here at minicamp in May, needs every preseason snap he can get to prove he's ready to play every day. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Published8/3/2009 12:10 AM

As part of his first full off-season in the Chicago area, Chris Williams and his wife, Marissa, made more than one trip to Six Flags Great America.

Was that because the 14th overall pick in the 2008 draft is all about roller coasters?


"Nope," Williams said. "Water-park guy."

Hmmm. Let's presume this coaster-averse persona serves as the perfect metaphor for the way the Bears' right tackle wants his time on the field to go.

No unanticipated twists or turns. No sudden drops that put his heart in his throat. And no results -- also known as sacks of Jay Cutler - that make him want to puke.

Alas, Williams' disdain for roller coasters happens to be more practical than fear-based.

"They're not built for me," he said.

True enough. At 6-feet-6 and 315 pounds, the Bears think the Vanderbilt product has been built to anchor the right side of their line.

But after playing precious few snaps in 2008 due to a preseason back injury that kept him out of the first seven games and slowed his development, Williams needs every bit of preseason camp to prove he's ready to play every day.

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While 10,000 fans oohed and aahed Saturday night as Cutler completed deep passes all over Olivet Nazarene's Ward Field in 7-on-7 sessions, the most relevant action occurred in the east end zone where the linemen battled 1-on-1.

The Bears run a drill where all five offensive linemen get in a stance and move in unison on the snap, but only one defensive lineman fires off the line in an attempt to reach an imaginary quarterback.

Williams' turns on the edge showed off equal parts potential and inexperience.

On one snap, the 23-year-old defused defensive end Adewale Ogunleye's outside rush quickly and smothered him on the grass. But on the next snap, Mark Anderson got Williams shifting his weight to the outside and used a blinding spin move to charge into the pocket unscathed.

"You're not going to win every 1-on-1," Williams said. "It's the first day of training camp in pads. Mark's a good player, too. You get beat. But what you do after you get beat is the big thing."


Bears radio analyst Tom Thayer stood directly behind the linemen Saturday night and watched every rep. He doesn't place as much stock in 1-on-1 results (since defensive ends have an inherent advantage in the drill) as he does the reinforcement of fundamentals.

"There, you just watch his athleticism," Thayer said. "Watch his footwork, watch his knee bend, watch his hand placement, his hand punch."

With someone as inexperienced as Williams, Thayer expects visible improvement virtually every day.

"He should be able to look like an inexperienced veteran (as camp wraps up), not an inexperienced rookie," Thayer said. "I think with the offensive-line coach, with (left tackle) Orlando Pace and some of the veterans here who can really give him some information, he's got an opportunity to be the player the Bears expected when they drafted him."

Conveniently enough, moments after Anderson got the best of Williams in that individual drill, 12th-year center Olin Kreutz showed Williams a little something about backpedaling, standing firm and delivering a punch that can negate a rush.

"We're just talking football," said Kreutz, declining to make a big deal of a veteran helping out a young 'un. "Chris Williams is a Pro Bowl-caliber player. What I see in Chris is a guy who can be as good as he wants to be.

"You've got to wait and see when the season starts, but Chris is so talented I don't think he'll be very far behind. He'll just have to get used to the wear and tear of the 16 games."


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