After an entire summer of trying various combos at nearly every position, the Bears seem to have found a starting offensive line unit. On Tuesday, the Bears rolled out a line, from left to right, that consisted of Braxton Jones, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, Michael Schofield and Riley Reiff. For the first time, that starting unit appeared to take every first-team snap, too.
“I think we’re starting to get there, just from the standpoint of going out there, getting up to the line, making out calls, communicating,” Riley Reiff said. “Then just the technique is going to come, the foot stuff is going to come, the hands are going to come. The main thing is just getting to the line, getting the communication down, getting set and stuff.”
Mustipher seems to have beaten out rookie Doug Kramer for the starting center jobー at least while Lucas Patrick is out with a hand injury. The Bears are still high on Kramer, but he’s struggled snapping the ball cleanly to Fields at times throughout the summer.
Arguably the biggest development on the line is Reiff settling in at right tackle, while Jones emerged as the leading candidate to start on the left side. Jones has obviously grown from the early stages of the summer, by cleaning up mental errors like false starts. He still gets beaten by defensive ends from time to time, but Reiff gave Jones credit for holding his own as a rookie.
“The ceiling is super high with that kid,” Reiff said. “Long, can move, smart. It’s just seeing some mental things, seeing a lot of reps, seeing what’s coming, and he’ll be alright.”
Of course it’s hard to blame Jones for giving up a “sack” in practice when going against guys like Robert Quinn, too.
The Bears will play their starters against the Chiefs in their first preseason game this Saturday, so it will be interesting to see how much work the starting line gets together. We’ll see if the team opts to work in different combos again, since they’ll be going against a live defense in real game action. Regardless, Reiff said that the line can use as much work as they can get.
“They are crucial,” Reiff said of the team’s upcoming preseason reps. “We see a great defensive line every day. Big, strong. But it’s good to go against another.
“It never seems like we have enough days in the summer… You can never get enough reps together.”