There are plenty of questions surrounding the Chicago Bears offensive line ahead of training camp. Namely, what the starting lineup is going to look like come Week 1.
Head coach Matt Eberflus said he’d like the offensive line figured out “the sooner the better,” but that won’t happen before training camp next month. While there are a couple of positions that are all but set in stone with some veteran presence, there are questions at both tackle spots and right guard.
Right now, all combinations are open along the offensive line. Which isn’t exactly reassuring when you’re looking to put your young quarterback Justin Fields in a position to succeed.
We’re examining every position along Chicago’s offensive line ahead of training camp next month.
Left tackle is the most intriguing position heading into training camp, as it’s a job that’s fully up for grabs. But that’s exactly what makes it the most concerning position, as well. While Larry Borom started the offseason program at left tackle, it was fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones who ended it at left tackle. At this point, it looks like the left tackle will be either Borom or Jones. But it’s worth noting that Jones has emerged as a legitimate candidate for the starting left tackle job.
Left guard is the one position on the offensive line that appears set in stone with Cody Whitehair, who’s coming off arguably his worst season with the Bears. Whitehair has played both guard and center, but with the addition of Lucas Patrick, Whitehair is all but a lock at left guard. As for Whitehair’s backup, that looks to be sixth-round rookie Zachary Thomas, who saw reps with the starters when Whitehair had an excused absence during mandatory minicamp.
Center might be the other position along the offensive line that’s all but a lock with free-agent addition Lucas Patrick. While Patrick has experience at both center and guard, he said he was specifically brought in to serve as Justin Fields’ center. It certainly helps that Patrick has experience playing in Luke Getsy’s offense, which should help make a smoother transition. Chicago drafted Doug Kramer in the sixth round, and he appears to be the immediate backup to Patrick. Although Whitehair and Sam Mustipher do have experience at center.
Right guard is currently the biggest hole on the offensive line, even with the questions at the tackle position. Ryan Poles attempted to sign Ryan Bates to fill that need, but the Bills matched his offer sheet. The Bears had a competition brewing between Sam Mustipher and Dakota Dozier, before Dozier landed on injured reserve. Matt Eberflus wouldn’t rule out potentially moving Larry Borom or Teven Jenkins to right guard. But it’s worth noting neither have gotten a look at that position during the offseason program.
Right tackle is a position that will be directly impacted by who’s starting at left tackle. While Borom was the starting left tackle at the start of the offseason, he was moved to right tackle for the final two weeks of the offseason program. At this point, it appears that it’s either Borom or Jenkins at right tackle. If Jenkins wins the favor of the coaching staff, it’s his job to lose. But where things currently stand after the offseason program, it’s Borom who’s filling that spot at right tackle.
Projected starting offensive line
The Bears offensive line is still a work in progress, so it’s hard to predict exactly what it’s going to look like come Week 1. All we can do is project what it looks to be at this time following the conclusion of mandatory minicamp. If there are two positions that are solidified right now, it’s Cody Whitehair at left guard and Lucas Patrick at center. Fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones is a legitimate candidate to start at left tackle with Larry Borom anchoring the right tackle position. Teven Jenkins has been working with the second-team offense, but it’s hard to imagine him not starting when the season kicks off.