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Guard optimism: Ready, Williams and able

Updated: December 18, 2011 5:24PM

Guard Edwin Williams started three games for the Bears last season.

But offensive coordinator Mike Martz said he “wasn’t quite ready.”

Williams was signed to the Bears’ practice squad Sept. 1, 2010, added to the active roster Sept. 27, then started his first game Oct. 10.

“The new system, getting used to everything, [Williams] got overwhelmed,” Martz said. “Having been here for a while, we feel very good about him.”

The Bears — and everyone else — will get to see how far Williams has come Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

Last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, Chris Williams suffered a season-ending wrist injury. He arguably had been the team’s most consistent lineman this season. But Edwin Williams replaced him in a game that was hard to gauge because the Bears’ defense dominated the second half with two touchdowns that turned the game into a 37-13 blowout.

Edwin Williams declined comment after practice Wednesday.

Asked what he likes about Williams, Martz said, “I like his toughness. He’s an excellent pass blocker, a very physical guy. He’s a prototypical guard. He was a center, too, and we like where he is.”

The Bears worked out former Notre Dame offensive lineman Jordan Black on Wednesday and several others Tuesday. They also have three offensive linemen on the practice squad: Levi Horn, Reggie Stephens and Ricky Henry.

But Williams will be given every opportunity to keep the job because Chris Williams was put on injured reserve.

“Ed’s been taking a lot of snaps; he knows the plays,” captain Roberto Garza said. “He knows what he’s doing.”

Pro Bowl voting

The Green Bay Packers are the league’s only undefeated team, and NFL fans apparently believe most of their players deserve a free trip to Hawaii.

The Packers have dominated Pro Bowl voting with 10 players ranked No. 1 at their respective positions in the NFC and 20 players ranked in the top five in overall votes.

The only Bear to lead his position is Devin Hester as a kickoff returner, while seven other teammates are ranked in the top five in total votes at their respective positions.

The Bears ranked in the top five are: running back Matt Forte (second), fullback Tyler Clutts (fifth), defensive end Julius Peppers (third), outside linebacker Lance Briggs (fourth), inside linebacker Brian Urlacher (third), cornerback Charles Tillman (fifth) and special-teamer Corey Graham (fourth).

The fan vote accounts for a third of the total, along with coaches and players.

In brief

Peppers didn’t practice, and Briggs (neck), Forte (shoulder) and Hester (ankle) were limited.

◆ The Bears signed safety Winston Venable to the active roster and put safety Anthony Walters on injured reserve.

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