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Bears flip-flop tackles Webb, Britton

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 1, 2013 – 3:30 pm

As part of an ongoing evaluation process, the Bears again shuffled their offensive linemen in Thursday’s practice, flip-flopping J’Marcus Webb to left tackle and Eben Britton to right tackle.

“It’s not too hard, just a little change of footwork and hands,” Webb said. “Anywhere coach needs me to play, I try my best. In this offense you’ve got to be able to play both sides, and anytime things happen you’ve got to step up and be ready when you’re called upon.”

After starting 12 games at right tackle as a rookie in 2010, Webb opened all 32 games at left tackle the past two seasons. He was shifted back to the right side this offseason after the Bears signed veteran free agent left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who has been voted to the last two Pro Bowls.

With Bushrod (calf) and Jonathan Scott (knee) sidelined Thursday with minor injuries, Britton worked with the first-team offense for the second straight day.

“You just have to accept [injuries] as part of training camp,” said coach Marc Trestman. “Fortunately, ‘Bush’ will be back and Jonathan will be back and we’ll have a whole group in there.

“The injury situation, we can turn a negative into a positive by working guys at different positions and see where we might be in the season. We’ve still got eight or nine practices here [in Bourbonnais] before we leave, and we’ll use every day to try to get better.”

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Cutler keeping the faith in Webb, line

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 21, 2012 – 2:12 pm

Although J’Marcus Webb has struggled at times, Jay Cutler still has faith in the Bears left tackle.

“Have to,” Cutler said. “For me to be successful in my job, I’ve got to have faith in him and I’ve got to believe each week he is going to do his part and it’s going to allow me to do mine.”

Cutler has enough of his own responsibilities in games to worry about the offensive line.

“You’ve got to play the game as if you have complete faith,” said the Bears quarterback. “You can’t be watching the line, you can’t be guessing ‘maybe they’ll block this play’ because you are not going to be very successful doing that. Each play you’ve got to believe in them, you’ve got to trust them and you’ve got to do your job.”

The Bears made one change on their starting offensive line this week, replacing Chris Spencer with Chilo Rachal at left guard. They could soon make another one if Webb doesn’t perform up to expectations.

“We have seven players who suit up every week and those seven players all get reps with the ones,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “We’re going to try to make sure and make the proper decision of the five guys we’re going to put in there who can protect our quarterback and help us run the ball.”

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Tillman recovering from leg injury

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 10, 2012 – 4:33 pm

Although the Bears did not practice Monday, they were required to submit an injury report to the NFL because they play Thursday night against the Packers in Green Bay.

Had they worked out, cornerback Charles Tillman (shin) and tight end Kyle Adams (shoulder) would not have practiced and tackle J’Marcus Webb (thumb) would have been limited.

Brian Urlacher also would have been held out as a precautionary measure as he works his way back following arthroscopic knee surgery.

The star middle linebacker started Sunday’s season opener against the Colts after missing more than a month of training camp and all four preseason games. Urlacher sat out most of the second half after the Bears had built a 20-point lead.

“I’m pleased with the way he played his first time out,” coach Lovie Smith said Monday. “You have to look at it like that. It was his first action when they’re cutting you live and having to take on blocks. I think he did a decent job with it.”

Tillman injured his lower leg while blocking during a Colts punt early in Sunday’s game. He returned for a couple defensive series before being replaced by Kelvin Hayden, an eight-year veteran who signed with the Bears in April.

“Of course we want Charles out on the football field as much as possible,” Smith said. “We felt coming in that we had three starting corner types, saying Kelvin is one.

“Kelvin came in, did a good job, had a big hit, and made a couple big plays, so it was good to get him into the mix. We’ll need all three corners during the course of the year. But we need to get [Tillman] back out there.”

Smith said that he expects Tillman to play Thursday night in Green Bay, but the Bears coach conceded that his “glass is half-full always.”

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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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