The Bears are hopeful for some J’Marcus Webb development
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org August 13, 2012 8:44PM
Chicago Bears tight end Evan Rodriguez (88) and Chicago Bears offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb (73) are seen in action against the Denver Broncos during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The Broncos won 31-3.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: September 15, 2012 6:20AM
BOURBONNAIS — Through his legion of loyal Twitter followers, with T-shirts and shout-outs, J’Marcus Webb is cultivating a personal brand as the leader of ‘‘Webb Nation.’’
But on the football field, the only brand Webb is cultivating is Brand X. He was promising enough as a rookie in 2010 that offensive line coach Mike Tice moved him from right to left tackle last year. Now, Webb is just another athletic guy with a shot to win a job. Or, as Tice referred to him Monday, ‘‘the other player.’’
Webb’s failure to solidify the all-important left tackle position in the fourth week of training camp is central to the biggest issue facing the Bears after Brian Urlacher’s balky knee. The offensive line threatens to be a wrench in the Bears’ plan to take a quantum leap on offense in 2012 — an offense that might be forced to take a quantum leap if Urlacher’s knee doesn’t hold up.
After last week’s 31-3 loss to the Denver Broncos in the preseason opener, Tice has re-opened the competition at left tackle, with Chris Williams and Webb expected to share first-team reps against the Washington Redskins on Saturday night at Soldier Field.
‘‘Chris had a solid game,’’ Tice said. ‘‘I didn’t feel the other player was up to par, as far as the standards we’re trying to set to protect our quarterbacks.
‘‘So we’re going to continue to see who is going to emerge there as the guy. I have trouble sleeping at night until I know that our quarterback is protected.’’
Tice said he still thinks the line will be at that level by the time the regular season begins on Sept. 9 against the Indianapolis Colts. He was effusive in his praise for right guard Lance Louis, satisfied with the progress of right tackle Gabe Carimi in his first game since suffering a dislocated kneecap in Week 3 last season and confident in veteran center Roberto Garza. But Webb and left guard Chris Spencer need to show improvement this week.
With quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte likely to play Saturday night after sitting out last week, the bar will be raised after a lackluster performance against the Broncos.
‘‘We were disappointed that we didn’t carry over some things we were doing in practice to the game,’’ Tice said. ‘‘And physically, we got our butts kicked.’’
Tice lauded rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery as a bright spot. But he needs to see more of them this week, especially on the line.
‘‘There are only two positions that play every snap — and that’s the O-line and the quarterback,’’ Tice said. ‘‘So it’s very important we got those linemen in for some game conditions.’’