Bad Timing

CLEVELAND _ Prior to Friday night's 24-10 loss in the preseason finale to the Cleveland Browns, Bears right tackle Aaron Gibson felt like there already were two strikes against him.

The third strike may have come during the game with the Browns when he left limping with a sprained right knee. Gibson has been plagued by knee soreness throughout preseason.

However, that third strike may never come this year for Gibson simply because of a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered by his competition for a roster spot, undrafted rookie tackle Kevin Droege. Then again, Gibson knows it's possible he could be cut or even traded if another more versatile offensive lineman becomes available through waivers when the rest of the league makes cuts.

"I wouldn't be shocked at anything," Gibson said. "I'd love to be here. But things happen the way they do. That's just how it is. I can't do anything about it."

Gibson's training camp and preseason resembled a trip down the side of a mountain – it was all downhill.

Offensive coordinator Terry Shea and coach Lovie Smith heaped praise on Gibson at the start of camp. The 6-foot-6, 370-pounder made Shea give consideration to starting him and playing right tackle John Tait at left tackle so they could get their five best offensive linemen on the field.

Then Gibson started having the knee problems and tried playing through them.

"Maybe it was my fault by practicing through my sore knee," Gibson said. "I got healthy and everything started feeling better again and I made a move."

During the past week he said the knee felt almost 100 percent, but roster limitations could have the team on the lookout for a backup tackle.

Gibson feels as though he never really got a chance to win the right tackle spot even though coaches had him with the first team part of camp.

"They brought Tait in and said he's going to be the right tackle; that's kind of how it's always been," Gibson said. "They never really changed.

"There were different combinations they were trying. But they were pretty strong in him saying he was the right tackle."

Gibson doesn't fit the Bears' mold for backup offensive linemen even if the knee injury he suffered Friday proves minor. Coaches want backup linemen to be able to play more than one position so they can save roster spots for other positions.

"The more you can do the better, and I just seem to be a right tackle," Gibson said.

It's possible he could be a right tackle without a team when Sunday rolls around.


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