Mike Tice may be the first-year, first-time offensive coordinator. But he spent much of Tuesdays minicamp session hands-on with the offensive line, most of whose members he coached directly last year.
And while he is a firm believer in his charges, he is feathering the brakes before any runaway feel-good starts.
To be quite frank with you, youre not going to tell anything about your offensive line until they put pads on, Tice said. To sit there and say, Oh, yeah, this guy, hes going to be the answer to the problems, that would be silly. So we just want to make sure that theyre assignment-sound, technique-sound, working their hands.
One of the areas that we wanted to improve across the board was our hands, using our hands better, keeping the players away from us. We know we have guys that can run, so thats going to help our running game. Thats really all we can look at right now.
Among the things that are being looked at right now:
Gabe Carimi is back in full at right tackle, showing few if any effects from the knee injury that ended his rookie season just short of six quarters.
First-round draft choice thats a very good football player back in the mix, said coach Lovie Smith. Weve been very pleased with what hes done, getting back in, getting back out there, hasnt had any trouble with the knee and it gives us a little more confidence when you see him out there.
JMarcus Webb and Chris Williams are taking nearly equal reps at left tackle. This will be the No. 1 position battle in training camp, between the former who failed to secure the job last season and the latter who lost the job in 2010 and is in a contract year.
Lance Louis is the No. 1 right guard, his position going into last season, and Chris Spencer remains shifted to left guard after emerging as the starter after early season injuries.
Edwin Williams, who started the last seven games in 2011 at left guard after Williams went on IR with a wrist injury, is working almost exclusively as the No. 2 center behind Roberto Garza. Chilo Rachal, a former starter with San Francisco, is the No. 3 guard at this point.
Rules prohibit offensive and defensive linemen from working live against each other, meaning there are no pass-protection drills to gauge how Webb or Williams handles the likes of Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije or even rookie Shea McClellin.
And a team that will commit to running the ball isnt doing anything of consequence in that entire area other than focus on assignments.
To try to come and work in on your inside run game right now is silly, Tice said. All youre going to do is end up breaking some rule and getting into trouble. So weve stayed away from the run game.