STRETCH RUN TO BOURBONNAIS

The Bears on Monday resumed off-season workouts at Halas Hall, beginning a stretch of eight workouts over the next two weeks before adjourning until Bourbonnais training camp practices July 28. One of the main areas of focus over these final two weeks of workouts will continue to be left tackle, and John Tait specifically.

Throughout the first six organized team activity workouts, Tait alternated between left and right tackle. He played right tackle one day, left tackle the next. With speculation increasing that Tait could eventually wind up on the left side for the first time since 2001, the former Kansas City Chiefs starter appreciates the opportunity to test his skills on the left side even if they are non-contact drills.

"I don't want to go into the last week of (training) camp and all the sudden I get flipped over there," said the highest-paid Bear for the 2004 season. "So definitely I think the coaches, they're going to keep that in mind.

"We can't predict the future, but I'm sure they'll let me know and give me enough time to mentally prepare for it in the future."

Coaches so far have characterized the move as only a chance to build depth and reward veteran right tackle challenger Aaron Gibson for an off-season of hard work. Gibson has lost more than 40 pounds in an effort to get into better shape and become one of the five best offensive linemen.

However, Bears coach Lovie Smith seemed to be changing his stance somewhat and leaning more toward giving Tait a serious look at left tackle a month ago when he said:

"We're open. We don't know who the best guys are right now so we're trying to give everybody an opportunity to prove that they should start."

"Rusty," is how Tait has described his first action at left tackle since playing there with Kansas City in 2001. "I'm going back to left again, so it will take me a little while to get back to my old form. But I've been there and done that." After three seasons at left tackle, Tait moved to the right side after the Chiefs acquired Willie Roaf from New Orleans prior to the 2002 season. Tait never had to move back to the left side because the Chiefs had former Bear Marcus Spears to back up either side.

"For me, I was in a luxurious position at Kansas City where when they moved me to right tackle we had a swing tackle who played both," he said. Tait said the change in stance from right side to left side threw off his game somewhat.

"It just feels a little bit weird," he said. "It's all repetition. I just need to get some reps and get it back down again."

Qasim Mitchell remains the starting left tackle on the team's official depth chart.

"Q is a good, young lineman. He's very athletic and he's quick enough to play in this offense," Tait said. "Right now I'm the right tackle. Now, as we go into camp and things get closer, who knows what's going to happen?"


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