The Bears placed OLG Chris Williams on injured reserve Monday, ending the season of the only starter on their offensive line who was playing the same position he did when last season ended.
Just when Chicago seemed to have found its winning combination up front — one that had allowed Jay Cutler to be sacked only five times during its four-game winning streak (which is outstanding by the standards of a Mike Martz-offense) — Williams' injury threatens to interrupt the group's growth.
The same five players had started in the same five spots for four straight games after injuries, and the poor play of Frank Omiyale, led to a shuffling on the right side of the line in the early going.
The streak will end at four in Week 11, however.
Edwin Williams, who stepped in after Chris Williams left the game Sunday, is expected to start at left guard against the Chargers.
It's the latest in the steady flow of lineup changes that O-line coach Mike Tice has managed well since the start of last season. Edwin Williams started three games at guard for the Bears last season and two for the Redskins during the 2009 season. He has an opportunity to get a longer look in the first-team offense with seven games to play this regular season.
Chris Williams has been a disappointment — the Bears drafted him 14th overall in '08, expecting him to become a quality left tackle, not a solid left guard — but his absence will no doubt be felt.
Two weeks ago, it appeared that the team's first-round pick this year, Gabe Carimi, was on the mend and that his imminent return would give the Bears an issue that most teams would be envious of — the equivalent of a sixth starting O-lineman and some high-quality depth heading into the late stages of the season. Instead, the Bears are without Williams for the rest of the year, and it's not clear when Carimi will be available after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last week.
Tice has made good, or at least tolerable, situations out of challenging ones during his 27 games with the Bears. He'll need to do it again for the Bears to keep rolling.
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