"There's a starting rotation that we have and going in, Gandy and Ruben were a big part of that battle. But Terrence Metcalf has really played well, so he's gotten into it also," Lovie Smith said.
Metcalf, considered the backup center coming to training camp, has experience at tackle and guard. His versatility is a useful asset during the 16-game season, but it's another attribute that has stood out on the field.
"Big, athlete guy. He's strong, and that's what you're looking for in a guard," Smith said. "He was young, but he's picking up the offense and whenever you can do that you can play a lot faster and a lot better which he's doing."
It's difficult for offensive linemen to make an impact in their rookie season. Adjusting to the pro game comes on multiple levels. The conditioning and power needed to be a starter is light years away from what is acceptable in college.
Since being selected by the Bears in the third-round of the 2002 draft Metcalf's story hasn't been much different. He's been active for 20 of 32 games, starting just two. His inactivity had more to do with who was in front of him as opposed to not being ready to play.
"When you come in, you've got three of the best interior guys that I've ever been around, that was Chris Villarrial, Olin Kreutz and Rex Tucker. You don't come in, you don't play at their style of play, you've got to learn the way that they play and follow suit. That's what you have to learn, their technique and how they come off the ball. That was the whole thing, learning how to play them."
Villarrial had been a mainstay at right guard since 1996, but signed with the Buffalo Bills during the off-season.
"He's been stuck behind a lot of good players, but he can be and will be a great NFL guard," said C Olin Kreutz. "He wants to kill people, so that always helps. He's got everything you need."
With a three-time Pro Bowl center on his side Metcalf isn't surprised to be ahead of Brown and Gandy.
"As long as Pete (Hoener offensive line coach) and as long as I can keep Olin and the other guys confident in me, then I ain't worried about nothing," Metcalf said. "Right now, the coaches are pleased with it, so I guess I must be doing something right."
There is a lot of time between now and the season opener on Sept. 12. With four exhibition games the competition will play itself out on the field.
"I have my own goals so that's what I'm trying to do, reach my own goals. I don't know what people thought of me or what I could be, but I knew what I could do and if everything goes well, I think I've got a shot."