The Chicago Bears offensive line has taken on quite a facelift over the last two offseasons since Ryan Poles took over for Ryan Pace. After Cody Whitehair, the next longest tenured Bears offensive linemen are Dieter Eiselen and Teven Jenkins. And Jenkins has only played in 19 NFL games.
The starting five seems set. Braxton Jones, Teven Jenkins, Cody Whitehair, Nate Davis and Darnell Wright will be your starting offensive line from left to right. The backup swing tackle certainly seems to be Larry Borom. How the Bears handle the backup along the interior line will be interesting and sets up a potential battle between Ja’Tyre Carter and Lucas Patrick.
We know if Cody Whitehair is injured, Lucas Patrick will step in and play center for Chicago. But what if there’s an opening at guard? What if Teven Jenkins or Nate Davis go down with an injury? Who will step in? That’s where this next training camp battle emerges.
Ja’Tyre Carter has barely seen the field in Chicago. He played three games last year and had just 31 snaps on the offensive line. He was decent in those limited snaps but Ryan Poles sees something in the second year guard. The Bears kept Carter on the 53-man roster the entire season. They wanted to make sure he was protected from other teams potentially poaching him, like the LA Rams did with Zach Thomas last season.
Patrick, however, saw plenty of action on the field but largely struggled when he was playing. Poles (and Luke Getsy) brought Patrick here to play center, but due to injuries, Patrick played almost no snaps at center and had to play almost exclusively at guard. Unfortunately, because of that, we really have close to no assessment of Patrick as a center. But the assessment at guard wasn’t good, at least not last season. But Patrick can play any of the three interior positions. With Patrick’s (and Whitehair’s) position flexibility, that will give Matt Eberflus and Chris Morgan some flexibility on game day if they need to juggle their offensive line a bit.
If Jenkins or Davis go down, the Bears have three choices, move Whitehair out to guard and have Patrick play center, simply replace the injured player with Patrick, or replaced the injured player with Carter. Either way, the competition becomes who is the Bears best fourth interior offensive linemen, is it Carter or is it Patrick?
And let’s be honest, Davis has missed eight games over the last two seasons and Jenkins has missed 15. The odds are pretty good that someone will be filling in at some point this season so odds are both these players are going to have to be ready.
Carter has worked largely at right guard only. That’s where he spent most of last season and with Nate Davis missing some of the early OTAs, Carter was starting in his place. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ahead of Patrick, as Patrick split time at center with Whitehair. It will be interesting to see if the Bears get Carter work at left guard (or even potentially center) during training camp.
This is the best the Bears offensive line has looked since probably training camp 2019. It’s young, it has the chance to develop together and become a strong unit, but most importantly, it’s depth has improved. You certainly don’t want Larry Borom to be a starting tackle, but he makes a fine swing tackle. If Carter and Patrick both prove to be valuable backups along the interior, the Bears could have a decent top 8 along the line and that’s something that hasn’t been said in a very long time.