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Bears’ O-line looking for redemption on road against Giants

Chris Spencer got work with first-teamers playing center Wednesday.  |  Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

Chris Spencer got to work with the first-teamers, playing center, on Wednesday. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

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Updated: November 3, 2011 10:19AM



BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Given the abbreviated offseason, the Bears weren’t going to allow any knee-jerk reactions with their offensive line based on the preseason opener.

They were clearly alarmed that the Buffalo Bills racked up nine sacks, but coaches and general manager Jerry Angelo couldn’t be wholly surprised since four of the starting linemen are lining up at a different position than last season.

But the patience might run out with another poor performance Monday night against the New York Giants.

“We’re looking for a big improvement from guys that had some bad plays in the game,’’
offensive line coach Mike Tice said. ‘‘Looking to see them make some strides in areas where they were weak.’’

If not, though, the Bears could make some changes.

And perhaps add a veteran.

There are a handful of quality linemen still available, and a shuffled lineup — with a new veteran — could have nearly three weeks to jell before the regular season opener Sept. 11 at Soldier Field against the Atlanta Falcons.

Yet the organization is hopeful that the current five can take a collective step forward and encourage them not to call on what Angelo described to the Sun-Times last week as a “Band-Aid.’’

There couldn’t be a greater test than Monday’s game.

The Bears return to the New Meadowlands, where quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked an NFL-record nine times in the first half of a loss last Oct. 3.

‘‘We should still be embarrassed by that, so now you have a chance to go in there and play better and redeem yourself to some extent,” Tice said, noting that it is a preseason game.

The young tackles, J’Marcus Webb and rookie Gabe Carimi, will have to adjust to a hostile environment on a Monday night against a fearsome defensive line. In addition, right guard Lance Louis has to rebound after a shaky game against the Bills.

On Wednesday, though, the Bears were able to field a different lineup, one that included Chris Spencer at center and Roberto Garza at right guard instead of Louis.

The latter fell ill during practice Wednesday, allowing the coaches to get a look at that group.

‘‘It’s nice to take a look,’’ Tice said, ‘‘without turning it into a saga.’’

Louis wasn’t available after practice, and Webb declined comment.

But the starters don’t have room to falter, especially with Spencer — and perhaps a veteran free agent — hungry to take a spot. For his part, Spencer had a strong game against the Bills, and he appreciated the chance to run with the starters.

‘‘It was good, just getting ­comfortable with the guys, and knowing what they’re doing and letting them hear my voice and my calls,’’ Spencer said.

He added that he has worked on better using his hands and feet, and his command of the offense is in place.

As for his goal, he’s still aiming for a starting spot.

‘‘If that’s not your goal, then you shouldn’t be in this league,’’ ­Spencer said. ‘‘That’s always the goal. I have to continue to work hard and keep my head up.’’



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