Bears counting on first-round pick

Bears counting on first-round pick

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 16:52
Even though first-round draft pick Chris Williams had not agreed to contract terms by the time Bears coach Lovie Smith addressed the media mid-afternoon Tuesday at Olivet Nazarene University on Bourbonnais, it seemed obvious that the Vanderbilt product is being counted on to start at left tackle soon. When Smith discussed the unsettled left guard position, he mentioned Terrence Metcalf, Josh Beekman and John St. Clair, who started at left tackle throughout the off-season practices and will line up there with the first team Wednesday afternoon for the first practice of camp. Smith made it clear that Williams would have to earn the starting job, but as long as he signs soon, it's not expected to be long before he takes over for St. Clair. “We have high hopes for him,” Smith said of Williams. “I expect him to be in camp. We expect him to be a big part of what we do this coming season.” Last year Lovie Smith was criticized for giving most of his starters very limited playing time in the preseason, but that doesn't appear to be a mistake he's going to repeat. After last year's laid-back camp on the heels of the Super Bowl XLI experience, the Bears got off to a 1-3 start, which they never recovered from en route to a 7-9 finish. On Tuesday, as players trickled in Tuesday afternoon for the start of training camp, Smith said that starters would see more extensive action in the preseason, especially on the offensive side of the ball, where several positions – quarterback, left guard, wide receiver – are being contested. Smith reiterated that the quarterback competition between Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton would be conducted on a level playing field but would not divulge who would be working with the first team in Wednesday afternoon's first practice.
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