The plan from Day 1 was to have first-round draft pick Chris Williams start at left tackle, which would allow John Tait to move to a less taxing position on the right side. But then Williams went down on the second day of training camp drills with a back injury that eventually needed surgery, forcing career reserve John St. Clair into the lineup to protect quarterback Kyle Orton's blind side. St. Clair seemed to run out of gas down the stretch and struggled with some of the speedier edge rushers, although he did hold up quite well against the likes of Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers the first few weeks and deserves a tip of the cap.
While the left guard position was totally up for grabs in the preseason, an injury to Terrence Metcalf opened the door for second-year pro Josh Beekman, who was whistled for a few too many pre-snap penalties but generally did good work.
Inside the Numbers
What will happen at right tackle is harder to predict, as Tait has a $5.35 million cap number for next year and St. Clair is an unrestricted free agent. There is very little depth up front at Halas Hall that can be counted on for any contribution going forward, with practice squad tackle Cody Balogh possibly a candidate to be a backup next season. General manager Jerry Angelo needs to be ready to write some checks in free agency because he got nothing out of an in-season trade with Tampa Bay for guard Dan Buenning, plus losing St. Clair right now would be a tough pill to swallow since his versatility is so valuable.
Angelo grabbed both a guard (Chester Adams) and a tackle (Kirk Barton) with seventh-round choices in last April's draft but neither is with the club anymore, so it may be time to start investing some higher picks to fill those reserve roles.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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