When it comes to defending Justin Fields, the Chicago Bears’ offensive line had nowhere to go – The Mercury News

As practice began on Friday morning and a capacity crowd was still entering Halas Hall, General Manager Ryan Poles stood beside coach Matt Eberfluss and watched the Chicago Bears offensive lineman go through individual practice.

On the other side of the collection of large bodies, assistant general manager Ian Cunningham studied them carefully as line coach Chris Morgan put players through their paces. For about 10 minutes, the top three men in football operations were watching a group that has been under scrutiny all of the off-season.

Rekha caught the attention of those in charge this summer. Between the end of the Veterans Minicamp in mid-June and the start of training camp last week, a determination was made that help was needed. This. led the signatures left tackle relay reef33, and Right Guard/Right Tackle Michael Scofield31. Both have an abundance of starting experience, something you can only say about one player the team already had – left guard Cody Whitehair.

Kendra Lucas Patrick, a veteran signed during the March free-agency period which is estimated to begin, is Was sidelined after surgery to repair his broken right arm, Teven Jenkins, who was expected by the previous government to anchor the left tackle position for the coming season, is missing from practice. Jenkins hasn’t been on the field since Wednesday’s first season, when he found some work as a tackle in a heavy package.

Aberfluss will only say that Jenkins is working with training staff and describes it as day-to-day, refusing to reveal the issue. Naturally, the mind will wander a back injury that led to surgery Last August and sidelined Jenkins for the first 11 games.

Aberfluss also declined to put a timetable on Patrick’s return, but said that Patrick could potentially be cleared by the September 11 opener against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field. Patrick snaps the ball with his right hand, so that would make it more challenging than dealing with an injury to his left hand. Sam Mustifer has been the returning center due to an injury to Patrick, who he played for the past season and a half after opening camp at right guard.

It’s too early to say if the Bears are in trouble on the line, but they had four rookies running with the first team during Friday’s work. While it has solid feel for late-round picks, it is sub-optimal when it comes to defending quarterback Justin Fields in the real game. So many moving parts also delay the team finding the starting five and giving them time to work together.

“Its continuity, of course it’s a good thing,” Eberfluss said. “But adversity hits, and that was my whole reaction — how do you respond to that? You can’t change a lot of things in life, right? You come across situations and they’re there. They present themselves, And how you react to that situation is all that matters.

“You can’t take a magic bullet, you just can’t invent another player that’s going to show up sometime. You just have what you have and you have to work through it and do it your best.” Have to make. And that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re trying to make the best combination. It’s really for all the training camps.”

Reef and Schofield worked with starters in team practice for the first time on Saturday. Larry Boram has consistently been the perfect tackle.

Two weeks earlier, Ross Tucker, a seven-year veteran of the NFL, replaced the Bears. offensive line 32nd: “The Bears have the potential to not only have the worst offensive line in the NFL this year, but probably also the worst offensive line we’ve seen in the NFL in quite some time if their young tackles don’t come.”

This was before the arrival of Reef and Scofield, so it would be fair to say that the floor has been raised for this unit. Linemen on the road aren’t going to change a position in July, but they can provide a level of stability as bridge players. In this case, the Bears go from a stopgap measure in a left tackle from a year ago – Jason Peters – to second in the reef that probably leads to fifth-round pick Braxton Jones, a future draft pick or an expensive free-agent addition. .

“I think (Reef and Schofield) make a big difference,” Tucker said on Saturday. “I did the rankings three weeks ago and not only do I think the Bears had the worst offensive line in the league, I thought it was a fair amount. Maybe these young guys are going to be great players. We don’t know. But When I’m ranking, I look at what they’ve done so far or what I know about them – not their potential or how they can develop.

“I couldn’t believe it was looking at his offensive line. Whitehair is a solid player. Lucas Patrick is fine. I haven’t seen him a ton in the center. He’s solid. But then I can both tackle and right guard.” Was thinking about – there must be three people who are total unknowns or question marks? They were 32nd to me and by a healthy margin.

“Getting Reef and Scofield now, and before Patrick’s injury, they have four guys I know are capable NFL offensive linemen. I’ve seen them start enough games, play enough games to feel that They’re not bad and they’re not going to hit Fields. Whitehair is a little better than that. Patrick and Scofield are serviceable starting linemen. Reef is better than that.

“Then they had a question mark and I thought of Borom, Jenkins and Jones, there is a very good chance that one of those three will show they are good enough to tackle the other. I really think that They are probably 31st or 30th now. I moved them up a few places.”

The Bears have $26 million committed to their line this season, according to spottrack.com, lowest in the league. So either they will get what they have paid for or some young players are going to show growth and exceed expectations.

Aberfluss is not wrong in that more practice time for younger players will only benefit them. Everyone needs to be in line for a ton of play in the preseason, and things can change quickly when practice is in full pads this week.

“The youth have done a great job,” Whitehair said. “They really have. They’ve really bought into the system, they’re working really hard to be a pro as soon as possible. They’re constantly asking questions, they’re constantly doing extra work, extra film Just doing the studies to get to that slight edge. I’m really happy with where they are and excited to see them progress.”

With a few giants sprinkled in the mix, maybe Bear will find a combination that works. There is no doubt that the focus will be on the group – from top to bottom – of the organization.

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