Lance Louis signs with Dolphins

Lance Louis signed with the Miami Dolphins today, meaning the Chicago Bears are down one offensive line starter. What can the team do to fill a big hole at the right guard position?

The Miami Dolphins recently announced the signing of former Chicago Bears offensive lineman Lance Louis. Louis, a seventh-round selection in the 2009 draft, started 28 games the past four seasons for the Bears, mainly at right guard.

He was performing at a very high level for the Bears last year before an ACL tear in Week 11 ended his season prematurely. He's not expected to be healthy for offseason programs but could be ready to go for the start of the regular season.

According to Pro Football Focus, Louis was the highest-rated pass blocker on the team at the time of his injury. A former tight end in college, it was believed he could play an integral role in Chicago's new zone-blocking run scheme.

The Bears now are without starters at both guard positions. Edwin Williams and James Brown are still on the roster but neither showed well last year and shouldn't be considered long-term options. Even before Louis' departure, the Bears needed to draft a guard. Now that need is exacerbated.

The team may also add a veteran free-agent guard at a minimum salary, but bargain-basement shopping isn't the way to build a championship contender. Expect GM Phil Emery to look long and hard at guards in the first two rounds of this year's draft.

Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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