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Battle for starting spot a ‘dogfight’

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 29, 2012 – 1:15 pm

The most hotly-contested battle for a starting job at training camp is being waged by J’Marcus Webb and Chris Williams at left tackle. The two are dead even and splitting first-team reps in practice.

“It’s going to be a dogfight for those two guys,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “I’m not going to put up with any crap as far as turning [pass-rushers] free and not protecting the quarterback. We have too many athletes to not be able to throw the football explosively.”

Webb, a 2010 seventh-round pick from West Texas A&M, started all 16 games at left tackle last season after opening 12 games at right tackle as a rookie.

General manager Phil Emery feels that Webb possesses the ideal body-type for the position with good length, feet and range as well as the right temperament.

“He needs experience and he needs to show consistency as he gains experience,” Emery said. “He came in here and he played right tackle, so last year was his first year as a left tackle, and as a first-year left tackle did he make progress? Yes, I do believe he did. I think he made progress.

“Does he need to make more to be a consistent starter, that when we line up on Sundays we know that our left tackle is a consistent starting NFL player? Yes, he needs to make progress.”

Williams, a 2008 first-round pick from Vanderbilt, joined the Bears as a left tackle before being moved to right tackle in 2009. He returned to left tackle late that season before switching to left guard in 2010. Williams started the first nine games at left guard in 2011 before sustaining a season-ending wrist injury.

The ability to pass block with consistency will be a key factor in determining the starter.

“We’re going to keep the heat on both of them,” Tice said. “What we want to see is who’s going to block our good pass rushers. I know they can both run block, but we’re not going to go out there and run the ball 50 times a game. So you’ve got to be able to protect. If you can’t protect, you can’t play for us.”

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