Bears’ ‘O’ line gets facelift after Frank Omiyale has tough time
By Mark Potash and Neil Hayes email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org October 2, 2011 10:52PM
The ball is on the ground after Bears defensive End Julius Peppers (90) blocked a field goal attempt in the third quarter of the Chicago Bears 34-29 win over the Carolina Panthers 34-29 Sunday October 2, 2011 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 15, 2011 10:05AM
So much for continuity along the offensive line.
First it was injuries to right tackle Gabe Carimi and right guard Lance Louis that forced offensive line coach Mike Tice to make changes. On Sunday against the Panthers, it was ineffectiveness that resulted in another scrambling of the lineup.
Frank Omiyale got beaten twice on the same drive late in the second quarter, prompting Tice to move Louis to right tackle for much of the second half.
“It’s different because there’s a lot of space out there and the guy has a lot of freedom to do anything,” Louis said. “When you’re inside the guy is right there. When you’re outside, the guy could line up wider and do all those things and moves. It’s different, but it’s my job.”
Despite not lining up at tackle until this week at practice, Louis played well enough to make Tice consider keeping him there and making Chris Spencer the permanent right guard.
“We’re just looking for the best combination that’s working,” coach Lovie Smith said. “No more than that. Everybody played. Whether you get a few more reps or less reps, it’s based on how you’re playing at the time. That group was what we felt most comfortable with at the end.”
Panthers tight end Jeremy Shockey was miffed that his 22-yard touchdown reception was nullified when he was called for offensive pass interference. Instead of getting the Panthers to 24-23, they came up empty when Olindo Mare’s 34-yard field goal was blocked by Julius Peppers.
‘‘I would like the league to review that and [give me] an explanation because it was a big play in the game,’’ said Shockey, who had two receptions for 41 yards. ‘‘I asked [the official], and he never gave me an explanation at all. I just don’t understand. I asked them a couple of questions, and they don’t tell me [expletive]. They should be held accountable as well.’’
The Bears scored a touchdown on defense, but it was otherwise a day of missed opportunities. Matt Toeaina missed a sack of Cam Newton. Brandon Meriweather seemed to have time to break up a long pass from Newton to Steve Smith that went for a 53-yard gain. Tim Jennings had two pass breakups that could have been interceptions.
‘‘I should have had two,’’ Jennings said.
‘‘I don’t know how our pass rush was. But I didn’t feel like [Newton] was under stress today,’’ Brian Urlacher said. ‘‘We blitzed a few times and got a few bad throws. We’ve got to catch the ones he’s throwing to us. We dropped a few today.’’
One block away
Rookie Chris Conte said — with a chuckle — that he underestimated Devin Hester’s speed on Hester’s 73-yard kickoff return. Conte was unable to make a block at the end of the return that might have sprung Hester for a 109-yard touchdown.
‘‘It was close,’’ Conte said. ‘‘He bounced it and did what he usually does. There were a lot of people coming from the other side. I should have just sprinted to the punter, because knowing how fast [Hester] is, he’s not going to let somebody coming across the field get to him. So I underestimated his speed. If I would have gotten to the punter it would have been a touchdown.’’