Bears Forced To Shuffle O-Line

Because of injuries to Gabe Carimi and Lance Louis, Chicago will take a new right side of the offensive line into Sunday's game against Green Bay. Frank Omiyale, who started at left tackle last season, will start at right tackle and face Clay Matthews.

Not only have the Chicago Bears allowed more sacks than any team in the NFL, they'll face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday with their third different offensive line in as many weeks.

Frank Omiyale will start at right tackle in place of rookie Gabe Carimi, who is out with a partially dislocated knee. In addition, Chris Spencer, a center by trade, figures to start a second straight game at right guard in place of Lance Louis, who is battling back from a sprained ankle in Week 1. Louis was able to practice only on a limited basis on Thursday. Offensive line coach Mike Tice said Louis will play somewhere on Sunday if he's healthy, but that's 50-50 at best.

Still, quarterback Jay Cutler remains calm.

"We're two games in," he said. "I don't think there's any reason for anybody to hit the panic button. Those guys are going to be fine. They're working fine. They're doing what they have to do. We just have to help them out some."

Cutler said that doesn't mean scaling back the offense.

"We're going to do what we do," he said. "It's not like we're out there busting plays or forgetting stuff. We're just missing one little thing offensively. This takes 11 guys, and if we have one miscue, the thing's going to go up in smoke. I don't think we're going to dial anything back."

The Bears learned last season how important cohesion is on the offensive line. They won't have that until they can line up with the same five up front for a few weeks in a row. Last season, it took nine weeks before the Bears hit on the optimum line combination.

"In an ideal world, you want to get five offensive linemen in their positions as soon as you can and let them grow together," coach Lovie Smith said. "You set your roster up for that."

Omiyale started all 16 games last season, including the final 14 at left tackle for a team that reached the NFC title game. But he was not in the starting lineup when this season began. Now, he's back at one of the three line positions where he's started games for the Bears over the previous two seasons.

Looking at the glass as half-full, Omiyale has the experience of having started 28 games for the Bears. The glass-half-empty crowd would point out that he never played well enough to become entrenched as a starter at any position, and he had two false start penalties in relief of Carimi last week.

Spencer has started 70 games in the NFL but only four at guard.

"I'm just glad that we had two good options, in Chris and Frank," Smith said. "Now those guys are able to get every (practice) rep and really prepare themselves for a good defense coming in. It's not an ideal world, but that's what we have right now, and we'll make the most of it."

That was the same attitude Omiyale had when he was relegated to a backup role in training camp.

"It was frustrating," Omiyale said. "But decisions were made, and my goal was just to get on board and make sure I made the team and be around for this situation. (Now) it's here, and I want to make the most of it and try to get it done Sunday."

Omiyale will have the daunting task of dealing with Packers Pro Bowl outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who had 13.5 sacks last season, second in the NFC.


Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave publisher Bill Huber a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.



Packer Report Top Stories