BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The single biggest position battle in Bears training camp the competition between JMarcus Webb and Chris Williams for the starting left tackle job may already have a leader. Its just not evident, given that Webb and Williams have alternated and will continue to split time with the No. 1 offense.
It may not be appreciably more apparent when the pads come on for the first time at Saturday nights practice. The reason: The reps and drills are quizzes. They all count in the grade.
But the first real test comes Aug. 9 in a Thursday preseason game against the Denver Broncos in Soldier Field.
Games will be the biggest determinant of whether Webb or Williams open against Dwight Freeney and the Indianapolis Colts.
Once we get to the practice field, we take everything into consideration, coach Lovie Smith said. We videotape everything they do. Im talking about one-on-ones, all of that.
But yes, it comes down to how they perform in the game also.
The standard for determining the starter is simple:
Between those two we're looking for somebody that's consistent, said GM Phil Emery. That looks like a consistent starter, someone who can contribute to winning football.
In Webbs favor is that he has the traits that fit the job. He is 6-7, 333 pounds, an inch and 13 pounds bigger than Williams. The Bears view him as having the quick feet, range and temperament for a left tackle, where he started all 16 games last season.
He was the hood ornament for Bears offensive-line problems last season with his sacks allowed and penalties. But it was his first stint at the position at the NFL level, after starting at right tackle as a rookie, and the lockout meant that his first time at left tackle was the first day of training camp 2011.
I think he made progress, Emery said. Does he need to make more progress to be that guy that I said, that consistent starter so that when we lineup on Sundays we know that our left tackle is a consistent starting left tackle? Yes, he needs to make more progress.
Where Webb has started 16 games at left tackle and 12 at right, Williams has 11 games at right tackle and seven at left, the position he was drafted in 2008 to play.
Williams has managed to play all 16 games in just one of his four NFL seasons, vs. Webb, who was inactive the first two games of his rookie year and a starter in every one since then.
One undesired prospect is them both starting, but that is likely only if Gabe Carimi does not return adequately from his knee injury.
In the meantime, it is Webb vs. Williams on the field, beginning with Wednesdays team conditioning drills, and on film.
Every time we get an opportunity to evaluate the guys, were doing it, Smith said. It first starts with the conditioning test and from there, the type of shape they come in, meeting rooms, all of that. But then we take everything into consideration. I think in the end, we talk about competition and cant wait to get the roster set.
Normally players tell you exactly who should start and where you stack them on the depth chart. And thatll be the case this year.