Webb Wants Left Tackle Spot

Last year's right tackle J'Marcus Webb wants a shot at the starting left tackle position this year. How might him switching sides alter the effectiveness of Chicago's front-five unit?

Even though the NFL and NFLPA are giving signals the lockout could be lifted as early as next week, football action can't come soon enough for Chicago Bears offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb.

"It's kind of like the internal clock is ticking," Webb told the Chicago Tribune. "I have been wanting to hit somebody here pretty soon. I'm just real anxious. Kind of giddy."

Last year's seventh-round pick was one of the team's biggest surprises in 2010. The 6-8, 335-pounder earned the starting right tackle gig by Week 3 and stayed there for the remainder of the season. The Bears recently drafted offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, although where he'll eventually line up is still yet to be decided.

For his part, Webb would like the opportunity to to challenge for the left tackle spot.

"I leave that (decision) to the coaching staff," said Webb. "Coach (Mike) Tice is really good about putting guys in the right place. And I would love to be in that premier position, left tackle. I just want to contribute any place possible -- either left or right. I definitely don't want to leave any doubt on the field. But I am ready; I'm prepared for anything they throw at me."

Webb went through some serious growing pains last year but the coaching staff was staunch in their support of the rookie. He rewarded their patience by gradually improving each week. Now he's ready to take that next step, possibly on the left side.


T J'Marcus Webb
Scott Boehm/Getty

"You've got to have a little bit of attitude and you've got to have a little bit of aggression (to play left tackle)," Webb said. "You know, they have their best guys coming at you. But everybody in the league gets paid to do what they do best. So you've got to be the best. You've got to have, what is it? The eye of the tiger on that (left) side."

Obviously, Tice and coordinator Mike Martz will look to insert Carimi immediately. He started all four years at left tackle for Wisconsin. Some feel, because of his experience at the position, keeping him at left tackle would be the easiest way for him to transition into the NFL, especially as he's already lost valuable practice time due to the work stoppage.

Yet left tackle is arguably one of the toughest positions on the field to master. It might make more sense to slide Carimi to the right side, where his run-blocking prowess could be utilized in full. That way, he won't immediately be put out on an island against the league's best pass rushers. Webb has a year in the NFL under his belt and may be more likely to succeed on the left side because of it.

In whatever fashion the front five eventually plays out, one thing is for sure: If the offensive line doesn't improve next year, there is no chance the team will be able to compete for a championship. Jay Cutler was sacked 52 times last year, the most of any NFL quarterback. The pounding he took led to a mid-season concussion - forcing him to miss a game - as well as a sprained MCL that knocked him out of the NFC Championship game.

Webb feels the entire offense, which will operate for a second straight year under Martz, has the ability to play at a higher level this season.

"We got so close (to reaching the Super Bowl) last year and, yes, we didn't get on the big stage," Webb said. "But we definitely have the talent and the experience to do so. We definitely want to fulfill that this year. Bringing back Olin Kreutz and keeping me on the right side or the left side … whichever they see fit … just bringing back the guys we had and jelling and stuff early on is going to be huge."

The odd man out in this scenario is Frank Omiyale, who started for most of last season at left tackle. His performance at the position was sub-par, and he'll most likely be relegated to swing tackle duties in 2011.

And then there's the mercurial Chris Williams. The former-Vanderbilt product was drafted as the left tackle of the future in 2008 yet hasn't lived up to expectations. Injuries and inexperience have played a big part in his stunted development, but it's likely the team is willing to give him one more shot to succeed.

With all these possible scenarios in play, expect a very intense competition for the starting tackle positions once training camp begins.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport com. To read him every day, visit BearReport com and become a Chicago Bears insider

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