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Bears might have limited time to consider O-line options

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Dan Parr
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Posted June 17, 2011 @ 10:49 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

If there is going to be a full season in 2011, the Bears will have to work quickly to choose who will play on their offensive line and at what positions. In addition to re-signing free-agent C Olin Kreutz and deciding where to play '08 first-round pick Chris Williams, another priority up front could be helping J'Marcus Webb transition from right to left tackle.

The Bears are said to be considering moving Webb after he showed promise as a rookie in 12 starts on the right side. Shifting him to the left side would clear a spot for this year's first-round pick, Gabe Carimi, at right tackle. Some league observers have debated which of the two young tackles would be a better fit to protect Jay Cutler's blind side, but learning to play the position at the NFL level could be rough for either player.

The longer players are locked out of Halas Hall, the less time there will be to figure out where each player fits best before the regular season starts.

Frank Omiyale replaced Williams at left tackle early last season when Williams suffered a hamstring injury, and Williams moved to left guard when he recovered. It appears that Omiyale is slated for swing backup duty and that Williams will stay at guard, but their roles are subject to change with free agency still ahead and the lockout lingering.

Even with a full offseason in 2010, injuries and poor results led the Bears to tinker with several different personnel groupings before settling on a starting front five and sticking with it from Week Nine until the end of last season. The Bears might have to do some experimenting again before there's a clear picture on the O-line.

Carimi could slide in at left tackle and four-fifths of the starters would return at their same positions. At this juncture, however, Roberto Garza's spot at right guard seems to be the only position that is settled.

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