Work in Progress

Bourbonnais - In the team's first practice since Thursday night's win against the Rams in St. Louis, the offensive line took center stage.

Considering the group accounted for more than half of the Bears 19 penalties and yielded four sacks against there is a lot of work to do before now and the start of the season.

Building continuity continues to be a challenge with a unit that will likely only have one holdover from last year is a test. John Tait and Rex Tucker didn't play in the game, which could account for some of the miscues.

"The thing that's held us back a little bit is just a couple little nagging injuries where we'd get ready to maybe look at something, a certain combination and get things done, and then, boom, something would pop up," said offensive line coach Pete Hoener. "So hopefully we can get them all back here and settle down because we need to now."

Tucker was held out of the game for precautionary reasons, as he's recovering from ankle surgery and the turf of the Edward Jones Dome can be unforgiving.

Tait's groin injury will keep him sidelined for now and when he returns it will be at right tackle.

"John had a good check up last week," Lovie Smith said. "He's being kept out just a few more days to make sure that everything is completely ok. I see him starting and remaining on the right side. That is the position he is accustomed to, and the one that seems to put the least strain on his body."

However who starts at left tackle is far from decided.

"Definitely so, still up for grabs," Smith said. "We're one game into the preseason. We know a lot more right now, but there's still a lot of football left to be played before we really decide on who that guy would be."

Inconsistency has plagued Qasim Mitchell. Mental lapses led to a penalty and on occasion getting beat by the Rams rush of the edge. Still he had moments where he stood out, including when he laid the key block to free up Thomas Jones for 17-yard run.

Mike Gandy could be an option at left tackle. With Terrence Metcalf missing time because of a sprained left ankle he suffered in the first series against the Rams, Gandy could also be given a closer look at guard.

Metcalf had been one of the biggest surprises in training camp, as he looked to take the right guard job away from eight-time Pro Bowler Ruben Brown.

"He's had a great camp really so far, but this is going to throw him behind a little bit," Smith said of Metcalf. "John Tait right now is our right tackle, Rex is our left guard, Olin is our center. The rest of the positions are open."

Brown hasn't had the best camp, but took his play up a notch when it came to hitting the opponent.

"I know that there has been some talk during camp that Ruben wasn't playing up to the level everybody expected but that's OK. He's been around the league and he knows what to do," said C Olin Kreutz. Ruben is saving his legs for the big effort in game situations. I can understand that. It's impossible to go all out day after day. You do what is needed when it really counts. Once the season starts, you'll see him as a key part of this offense."


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