Center of Attention

The offensive line is the starting point for building a football team. While center is a position that's often overlooked, the Bears' Olin Kreutz is one of the best in the business.

The three-time Pro Bowl center is the veteran leader of the offense. He's seen his mentors come and go over the years including Chris Villarrial and James "Big Cat" Williams.

Now it's Kreutz's turn to be the leader on a line that will likely have four new starters from a year ago. Not only does the unit have to learn a new playbook, but one another. The only member of the line Kreutz has worked with extensively is Rex Tucker, who has missed the team's last 27 regular games due to injury.

John Tait and Ruben Brown bring experience to the right side of the line, which should help speed up the group's learning curve.

"John's a great player and Ruben's obviously been a great player for a long time," Kreutz said.

The importance of having Tait on the roster can't be understated because he's worked in the same offense the Bears are now running for three years.

"Actually we're trying to get cohesive with John because he's the one who knows the offense. He's probably the most in-tune with all of it," Kreutz said.

The possibility of running a more aggressive brand of football has Kreutz excited.

"It obviously looks like an exciting offense, a more attacking offense," Kreutz said.

One thing the Bears don't have to worry about is Kreutz's durability. He's only missed one game in the past three seasons and that was because of an emergency appendectomy.

Ironically Lovie Smith had to game plan for Chicago without Kreutz when the Bears traveled to St. Louis Rams on Nov. 18, 2002.

"We thought he was going to play right up until, really right before kickoff we were planning on him playing," Smith said. "It's going to take an awful lot, something like that for him not to play.

Finding someone to backup Kreutz is not a major concern, but Smith is examining his options.

"We're telling Olin that he can't ever miss any action, so hopefully we won't get to that, but we're trying different guys," Smith said.

The list of candidates include Josh Warner, Terrence Metcalf and even Steve Edwards.

"To tell you exactly who are backup center would be, I really couldn't tell you right now," Smith said. "If you look at most people's team it will probably be the same type of situation. You feel good about your number one center, from there, you know, you could struggle a little bit. We have a little time and we'll get someone."


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