It’s difficult to tell what Lovie Smith is thinking about the left tackle situation.
2008 first-round pick Chris Williams started there last week when Orlando Pace was sidelined with a groin injury, and he did OK. But that isn’t the point. The Bears drafted Williams to be their left tackle for the next decade, and needs to get as much playing time there as possible, so he can hit the ground running next season.
Complicating the situation is the possibility that Pace, the seven-time Pro Bowler, might be healthy enough to get back on the field this week. That shouldn’t matter. Pace doesn’t figure in the future, and he hasn’t played well enough to get the job back anyway.
Using the groin injury as a way to gracefully remove Pace from the equation is the way to go. But Wednesday afternoon, Smith said: “I assume he will be ready to go. He got some work out there, so he is making progress. It wasn't a season-ending injury or anything like that. Hopefully, we will have him ready.”
But when Smith was asked about Williams’ play last week he said he liked what he saw.
“We drafted him to eventually play that position,” Smith said. “He looked comfortable there, did a lot of good things for his first time out. (But) he has a long way to go.”
Better he should start the journey now than next year, when the Bears might actually have a chance at the playoffs and need an experienced left tackle.