BOURBONNAIS, Ill. JMarcus Webb is the starting left tackle for now. Hell have some reps against the likes of elite rushers Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller when the Denver Broncos open the preseason at Soldier Field on Thursday.The competition between Webb and Chris Williams for the No. 1 job at left tackle is in fact in something of a holding pattern, however, with Williams shift to right tackle motivated in some measure by a desire to lighten the load on Gabe Carimis recovering right knee.I thought one guy Webb or Williams would really separate themselves and really jump out there, but that didn't really happen, said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. So for me, let's keep status quo, and see where the games take us.If there is a concern beyond neither Webb nor Williams stepping up, it may be that Williams has appeared to slump somewhat since the rotation reset was done last week.Williams, working at right tackle, was beaten convincingly by rookie Shea McClellin on consecutive pass rushes on Monday. McClellin put several moves together to register a simulated sack with an inside finish, then came back with a straight speed rush where he got the edge on Williams.With Gabes knee being sore a week ago, we had to get somebody over there that had some experience to take some reps off of Gabe because he was in a little bit of a bad way there for a couple of days, Tice said. We took some reps off him and it seems to have worked.How well it worked will play out a little more on Thursday night.
Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.
Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals.
"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.
"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."
Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.
Rookies from the Chicago Bears braved the rain and volunteered in our businesses this morning. They baked cookies, decorated the Thrift Shop, painted the Cafe & Bakery, walked and bathed the puppies and got a lesson in sheep shearing.— Lambs Farm (@lambsfarm) May 21, 2018
We are so grateful for their support! pic.twitter.com/tMgaH5hONX
Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.
Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning.
But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?
“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”
We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be.
“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”
“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”
Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy.
And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach.
“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”