O-line is a Patchwork Unit

Lake Forest - Steve Edwards has been shuffled back and forth between the starting and watching from the sideline. The same could be said for the entire offensive line, which could start four players against the Vikings that weren't in the lineup at the beginning of the year.

With five games remaining on the schedule the team is working with a patchwork offensive line. C Olin Kreutz is the only constant on the unit. Against Minnesota here could be four new starters from the beginning of the season.

"There is not continuity right now," offensive coordinator Terry Shea said. "We've lost totally our opportunity to establish that. From the very beginning we felt like this was one of our strengths, but right now we're doing everything we can to just piece it together."

The offensive line has given up 43 sacks this year and is on pace to hit 60 for the season. However, 25 of those sacks have come in the last five games with Craig Krenzel as the staring quarterback.

The finger is often pointed at the line for not protecting the quarterback, but there is plenty of blame to go around.

"You know normally (you give up a lot of) sacks you say offensive line," Lovie Smith said. "I have to say the offensive line that was the cause of some of those sacks. You have to say the quarterback position too of holding the ball. It's a combination of things. You could even put the receivers in there.

"I think as you look at when things are going good there's a lot of guys that should get credit when you throw a touchdown pass. The line should get some of the credit, quarterback and receiver. I think you have to say the same thing with sacks and anything that's going wrong on that side of the ball."

On top of the problems up front, Chad Hutchinson will make his debut for the Bears and is the fourth quarterback to start for the Bears in twelve games.

"Four quarterbacks and the season still isn't over, that's amazing," Edwards said. "It's not a negative on any of these players, but it can be difficult as an offensive lineman and there's somebody new coming in on an almost weekly basis. So much of our job depends on the communication we are able to establish. Each Monday we seem to be starting all over again." Edwards started all 16 last year at left guard, but when the team added Ruben Brown in the off-season it meant a change was coming.

Brown stepped in at left guard and Edwards became the swingman on the line and possibly the most valuable member of the group because of his versatility.

Edwards started for Brown on Thursday and then slide over to right tackle when John Tait left the game with an MCL sprain.

With Brown now done for the year, Edwards will return to left guard, which is his best position.

Last year Aaron Gibson started every game for the team at right tackle, but was forgotten when the team signed Tait to a six-year $33 million deal in the off-season.

"They told me in the beginning this was what was going on," Gibson said of being active just twice through 11 games. "Maybe I didn't like it, but I understood it. I just worked hard every day and left it at that."

However, Gibson will likely start this week for Tait, who is out indefinitely with knee injury.

"I get to show everybody that that wasn't a fluke last year and I can still play," Gibson said.

Marc Colombo and Terrence Metcalf will get a chance to unseat current starters Qasim Mitchell and Rex Tucker.

"The one thing we do have here in my opinion is we have some quality depth," Shea said. "That doesn't lend itself to continuity, but at least gives us a chance and thank goodness we have that depth because we need it so badly right now in terms of the offensive line."

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