The Chicago Bears made several changes to the big fellas up front during the offseason. They released their starting offensive tackles, they allowed their top reserve to leave via free agency, their swing tackle left as well, they added a new top reserve free agent, they drafted two players, and they made a few position changes.
The jury is still out if the group that is projected to open week one is going to be better than the five that began week one of the 2020 season, but many of you believe that’s a no-brainer as evidenced by this recent poll.
The #Bears will have a new starting 5 on the OL this year.— Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. (@wiltfongjr) July 22, 2021
2⃣0⃣2⃣0⃣ ➡️ 2⃣0⃣2⃣1⃣
(LT) Leno ➡️ Jenkins
(LG) Daniels ➡️ Whitehair
(C) Whitehair ➡️ Mustipher
(RG) Ifedi ➡️ Daniels
(RT) Massie ➡️ Ifedi
Is Chicago's projected '21 OL better than then the 5 that started week 1 in '20?
To be fair to the voters, July 22 was before training camp started, and it was before the rash of injuries that has affected the o-line room. On paper I could see why fans voted the way they did, even though I was one of the few no votes.
Of that projected 2021 group, only Cody Whitehair and Sam Mustipher have made it unscathed thus far through a week of training camp.
Left tackle Teven Jenkins has been nursing back tightness most of camp, right tackle Germain Ifedi is on the PUP list with a hip injury, and James Daniels left yesterday’s Family Fest practice with a thigh injury.
And we can’t forget that reserve Elijah Wilkinson was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list yesterday. Wilkenson has been serving as the primary swing tackle and has been getting reps on the left side with Jenkins out.
Rookie fifth rounder Larry Borom and second year pro Lachivous Simmons ran with the ones yesterday at left and right tackle respectively, and Alex Bars received some time at second string left tackle.
It’s no wonder the Bears edge rushers have looked so good in practice.
The interior has held their own a bit better this summer, but Daniels getting dinged up could be why they worked out Gage Cervenka today. Cervenka was with the Bears earlier this offseason, so there is some familiarity there.
If the Jenkins injury continues to drag out the Bears could bring in another tackle, and yesterday head coach Matt Nagy did say that general manager Ryan Pace has been monitoring the situation but that they will see if they have a viable in-house option first.
I’m not high on the tackle depth even if everyone was available, because Wilkinson looks more like a guard to me and Borom may not be able to transition to the left side.
Maybe the Bears get lucky and one of the young tackles in camp (Simmons, Tyrone Wheatley Jr., or Badara Traore) steps up and proves worthy of filling in, but right now the Bears desperately need Jenkins and Ifedi to come through.
Positional flexibility inside could help them out, but another rash of injuries like they had a year ago and things will get scary.
Are you guys worried about the o-line yet, or is the first week of August too soon to be concerned?