Metcalf’s broken hand explains part of ’07 struggles

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It was interesting to learn Friday that one of the contributing factors to Terrence Metcalfs benching late last season was a broken hand the guard suffered.

Obviously, Metcalf wasnt around at rookie minicamp to make this revelation a la Muhsin Muhammad at the fan convention in 2006 when he explained away some late-season drops in 2005 by making it known hed been playing with a broken hand.

Metcalf, who has 25 career starts, didnt reference his injury when he was benched but that doesnt mean he faces any less of an uphill battle this year. The third-round pick from 2002 is at a crossroads with the Bears looking to revamp the line. Hes got to assert himself to claim the starting job at left guard. In the past, hes been useful to have around as a backup because hes a veteran who understands the playbook. The team wants to get younger up front and if he cant pin down the job, theres no guarantee he sticks as a backup with a salary-cap figure of just more than $1.56 million.

There are a host of possibilities in place, including former fourth-round pick Josh Beekman, seventh-round picks Chester Adams and Kirk Barton and certainly veteran John St. Clair. It was St. Clair who started the final three games of 2007 in Metcalf’s place after he had taken Ruben Brown’s spot when shoulder surgery ended Brown’s season.

Brown bowed out because he was essentially trying to gut it out with one arm. Playing with a broken hand, Metcalf was in a similar circumstance having to fight with only one good arm.

St. Clair was signed as a swing tackle but would play anywhere to be in the starting lineup. Beekmans future might be as an understudy to Olin Kreutz.

This situation isnt going to sort itself out this weekend, and it might not come veteran minicamp at the end of the month. But its one that will play itself out over the summer.

Check back in a little later when we have some updates from Day 2 of the rookie minicamp.

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