Roberto Garza and Bears’ O-line clocking their own overtime
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org July 21, 2012 5:56PM
Bears linemen (from left) Chris Spencer, Roberto Garza, Chris Williams and J’Marcus Webb have been using Fridays for extra workouts. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: August 23, 2012 10:51AM
When the Bears officially kick off training camp in Bourbonnais next Thursday, their offensive line will draw the proverbial bull’s-eye.
Center Roberto Garza doesn’t expect anything less.
‘‘That’s every year,’’ he said. ‘‘Obviously, we have to get better. We know that. But we know we have the right guys, and we have great coaches, and we’re working on our technique. It’s up to us to be ready.’’
The transition from perennial Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz — who started 183 games for the Bears — couldn’t have gone much smoother. In many ways, Kreutz groomed Garza for the position and leadership role.
Garza performed well on the field and he thrived as a captain, a distinction he carried through an offseason that didn’t — as many had hoped and expected — include an overhaul of his unit.
At one point, even quarterback Jay Cutler acknowledged the offensive line was ‘‘definitely going to be a concern.’’
‘‘We need to perform,” Garza said of his group. ‘‘We know the burden’s on us, but that’s the way it is every year. We’re ready for the challenge and looking forward to it.’’
The Bears traditionally have very high attendance for offseason workouts at Halas Hall. But those sessions run Monday through Thursday, allowing players — if they choose — to spend a long weekend outside Chicago. Garza invited his fellow linemen to join him for workouts on Fridays at TCBOOST, a specialized training facility in Northbrook headed by Tommy and Bob Christian. The brothers have trained a range of athletes from the high school level to the pros, and they started working with Bears Charles Tillman and Rashied Davis, among others, in 2008. In 2009, Kreutz became a regular and recruited Garza to join him.
This offseason, TCBOOST regularly led Garza, Chris Williams, Lance Louis, Chris Spencer and Ricky Henry through Friday exercises focused on explosive movements and a handful of position-specific drills.
Left tackle J’Marcus Webb sometimes joined them, and right tackle Gabe Carimi came often after he was cleared to work out by Bears trainers.
‘‘The whole workout is geared around helping offensive linemen be faster and be in a better position to make a block,’’ Tommy Christian said. ‘‘We’ll do a lot of work with reaction. And if they recover a fumblerooski, we want them to score.’’
TCBOOST staff tracked the improvement of the regulars, and Tommy Christian is confident it’ll be evident next week.
‘‘I think what we do is extremely specific, and it should be noticeable in the way they practice and play,” he said. ‘‘The coaches will see it, and the fans will see it.’’
Garza applauded the Bears training program but feels strongly about integrating TCBOOST into his offseason routine.
‘‘It’s been a great part of my offseason training,’’ said Garza, who sometimes goes twice a week. ‘‘I just wouldn’t do it any other way. There’s so much they do to complement what we’re doing [at Halas Hall].’’
Video shows the linemen going through some challenging drills. But beyond the physical fitness, there’s another huge benefit.
‘‘It’s great to build that chemistry with those guys,’’ he said. ‘‘And those guys want to get better. That they take the time out of their free time shows what we’re trying to do. We obviously all want to be at our best, and that’s what it’s going to take.’’
Garza said Williams, whose season was cut short after nine games because of a wrist injury, is looking ‘‘great and explosive.’’ Williams will battle Webb for the starting left tackle spot.
Camp will be ‘‘big for him and J’Marcus,’’ Garza said.
As for Carimi, the Bears’ first-round pick in 2011, Garza couldn’t be more pleased with his progress and attitude.
‘‘He’s an O-lineman,’’ Garza said. ‘‘He goes to work every single day, he puts his head down and grinds.’’