Bears

Looking back – and ahead – at Bears offseason: Unsettled O-line needs time together

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Looking back – and ahead – at Bears offseason: Unsettled O-line needs time together

In the final edition of a three-part series, CSNChicago.com takes a look at the Bears offensive line heading into training camp.

The Bears enjoyed a 2013 season with the same five offensive linemen starting all 16 games, contributing to reaching an 8-6 peak in the first Marc Trestman year before the defense allowed 87 points over the final two games to miss the playoffs.

Last season the Bears started the same five linemen for as many as three straight games only once. And four of those five (tackles Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills, center Brian de la Puente and guard Michael Ola) were not starting as the final minicamp concluded; de la Puente is no longer on the roster.

Meaning: Absolutely nothing beyond left guard Matt Slauson and presumably center Will Montgomery seemed settled during minicamp, and what the line looks like on Aug. 1 when the pads come on in Bourbonnais will be only temporarily resolved in the next few weeks.

[MORE BEARS: Decision on Kyle Long involves more than just Long]

“I've told the players: You've got to start somewhere,” coach John Fox said. “It's not where you start the race, it's where you finish. I can't predict what's going to happen at camp. I know we will move people.”

Kyle Long’s movement has been amply documented and debated; right tackle, left tackle, right guard. Vladimir Ducasse was signed from the Minnesota Vikings and took all of the No. 1 snaps at right guard through minicamp. Charles Leno spent time at right and left tackle. Mills was out with an appendix problem. Bushrod did not practice in minicamp, although his pairing with Slauson has been a strength on a line without many, and Slauson was able to start just five games last season because of two different injuries.

Quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end are set for at least the beginning of camp, pending wideout Kevin White’s expected elevation to the No. 1 offense. But the offensive line has yet to practice together in what is a clear No. 1 unit and that cannot be the case by the time the Bears get into the preseason games at Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the season, Bears fans!]

“Whether you’re zone blocking or man blocking, gap blocking, draw blocking, as long as you’re on the same page, it always should be coordinated,” said offensive line coach Dave Magazu. “Sometimes the defense dictates that you’re not going to look so smooth. If they’re moving around, they can get you out of synch a little bit. But there’s where ‘zone’ helps you a lot, because folks are coming to you. Sometimes that looks a little more smooth.”

And “smooth” only comes from working together as a unit.

Previous: Looking back – and ahead – at Bears offseason: Who anchors D-line? 

Previous: Looking back – and ahead – at Bears offseason: LB competition  

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

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USA Today

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

The Bears are back in Chicago and Tom Brady and the Patriots are in town! With a week of practice wrapping up today, here's what's been happening in the lead up to Sunday's Bears-Pats matchup: 

Adam Schefter: Bears plan on Khalil Mack playing vs. Patriots

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USA TODAY

Adam Schefter: Bears plan on Khalil Mack playing vs. Patriots

Khalil Mack has yet to miss a game in his NFL career. He doesn’t plan on breaking that streak on Sunday.

ESPN insider Adam Schefter told the “Kirk and Callahan show” on WEEI in Boston that the Bears expect their star pass rusher to play this week against the New England Patriots.

Mack missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with the ankle injury he suffered last week against the Miami Dolphins.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio indicated this week that the outside linebacker could potentially play even if he doesn’t practice due to the injury.

Assuming Mack does take the field on Sunday, he won’t be 100 percent, and it’s unclear how much of an impact he’ll be able to have.

Last week was his least productive game of the season, and he earned a career-low grade from Pro Football Focus, with two missed tackles and only one pressure generated on 33 pass-rushing snaps.

The Bears are going to need more from Mack to slow down Tom Brady and the Patriots offense that’s averaging nearly 40 points per game over the last three weeks.