BOURBONNAIS, IL - JULY 30: (L-R) J.C Brignone #64, Roberto Garza #63 and Lance Louis #60 of the Chicago Bears watch during a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 30, 2011 in Bourbonnais, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\120118817.jpg
Updated: September 9, 2011 12:40AM
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — The Bears’ starting center job is Roberto Garza’s to lose.
When the Bears signed free agent Chris Spencer after parting ways with captain Olin Kreutz last week, it was emphasized that Spencer would have to beat out Garza to earn the starting position.
But Garza has been impressive enough in the first 10 days of practice that offensive line coach Mike Tice said Sunday that there is no competition. Garza is the starter until he isn’t.
‘‘Let’s get something straight,’’ Tice said when asked about the repercussions of Spencer beating out Garza. ‘‘I have five starting linemen right now. Unless [they] falter, there are no changes. That’s who’s starting against Atlanta [in the season opener Sept. 11]. There’s not a competition.’’
The Bears’ starting offensive line is J’Marcus Webb at left tackle, Chris Williams at left guard, Garza at center, Lance Louis at right guard and rookie Gabe Carimi at right tackle.
‘‘We’re light-years ahead of where we were last year,’’ Tice said. ‘‘I’m pleased Chris Spencer is coming along nicely. I think what we’ll do now is we’ll leave everybody be, evaluate the first game [Saturday against the Buffalo Bills] and see if we need to split some reps with Roberto or Spencer.
‘‘But the way things are going and all the good things I’ve seen, I’m not really [thinking] that I need to change anything.’’
Bumps and bruises
Wide receiver Johnny Knox (lower back) missed his third day of practice, and rookie defensive lineman Stephen Paea (swollen left knee) sat out, too. Defensive tackle Anthony Adams (lower left leg) dressed but was held out for much of practice. Wide receiver Roy Williams had his legs worked on but was able to participate.
‘‘At this time of training camp, you start to get a few injuries, which we are. Nothing major,’’ coach Lovie Smith said.
Rookie free-agent wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher continues to get first-team reps and is taking advantage.
‘‘He’s kind of the perfect guy to play in the slot,’’ Smith said. ‘‘He’s quick. He’s not the biggest guy around, but he’s got great quickness and runs great routes. Good hands. Confident player. We’ve all noticed him just about every practice.’’
So far, so good
Asked how the first week of training camp went, linebacker Brian Urlacher said, ‘‘It’s over. That’s a good thing.’’
But Urlacher was encouraged by what he saw from the defense.
‘‘We’ve had a lot of retention, more than I thought we’d have with not being able to do anything this summer,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s going to take a lot of time to get back into it. But we’re doing a good job, our coaches are doing a good job and practice is a lot of fun right now.”