Edwards right at tackle

BOURBONNAIS -- Steve Edwards didn't need an invitation. He saw a crack in the door and busted right through.

Edwards has been taking full advantage of an injury to Aaron Gibson during Bears training camp. Edwards worked out with the first-team offense again Wednesday at right tackle, and it doesn't appear he's just going to hand it back.

"You really appreciate it when you get out there. I've just been waiting for my shot to get out there," Edwards said. "I know Gibs is a little banged up, but this is my opportunity to show them what I've got at right tackle."

Edwards, an undrafted free agent out of Central Florida, was originally signed by the Eagles. He was later waived, signed to Philadelphia's practice squad, and then claimed by the Bears who had to immediately put him on the active roster in 2002.

In 2003, Edwards started all 16 games at left guard. With Gibson, Qasim Mitchell and John Tait in the mix, Edwards looked to be getting lost in the shuffle for a starting spot. But Mitchell was pushed to the second team over the weekend, and since Gibson has missed several practices with a sore knee, Edwards has gotten the reps with the first team.

"I came here undrafted, I don't take anything for granted," said Edwards. "A lot of guys that don't get drafted never get this opportunity.

"My natural position is right tackle, I've been playing it since I was little. Whatever it takes."

Edwards will get a chance to show his stuff during Saturday's scrimmage against the Rams.

Shift in philosophy: It appears Lovie Smith is swaying about John Tait opening the season at left tackle.

"We think he's a pretty good football player and of course you need your best tackle at the left tackle position," Smith said.

Tait has worked on the left side with the first offensive line. Since Tait hasn't played the position since 2002 he needs the refamilarize himself with protecting the quarterback's blindside.

"I'm rusty over there. I'm not playing as well as I could," Tait said. "But it's like a repetition thing. The more practices I'm there the more comfortable I feel in that position -- moving and sliding and stuff like that -- the better off I am."

* Old school: The Bears will practice once today, twice Friday and scrimmage the Rams in a 90-minute session at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Bears coach Lovie Smith, who served as the Rams' defensive coordinator for three seasons, considers St. Louis head coach Mike Martz his mentor.

"I'd be lying if I said otherwise," Smith said of Martz. "I'm here right now because of what most of the players did and Mike Martz, giving me an opportunity to run the defense there."

* Quick hits: Linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring), running back Anthony Thomas (abdomen) and tight end Desmond Clark (hamstring) are the only three Bears totally ruled out for the Rams scrimmage. ... Tight end Gabe Reid, a reserve for the last five games last season, has stood out at practice, and seems to be taking advantage of injuries to Clark and John Gilmore. The BYU product made a nice diving catch from Rex Grossman in 11-on-11 drills, caught a 15-yard TD pass from Grossman and added a third catch during Wednesday's afternoon practice. ...Kicker Paul Edinger had the distance, but was wide-left on a 51-yard field goal attempt during a two-minute drill. He came back to hit a 29-yarder when the second-team offense stalled out on its drive. ... Smith continues to praise the play of middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, who has been getting some reps with the first team, and NFL Europe project Marcus Reese with his work at weak-side linebacker. ... NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will attend tomorrow's Bears-Rams practice in Macomb, Ill., at Western Illinois University.


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