Four Down Territory, March 18: Exploring the interior of the O-line

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Day 2 of minicamp didn’t have quite the suspense of the opener when negotiations in Cleveland for offensive tackle John St. Clair hung over the situation. It’s a clean break for the Bears now as they can chart a path to the future by building a young line. Let’s get right to the questions and remember we’ll do one more Q&A in Four Down Territory this week on Friday.

Q: Chris Williams finally manned the left tackle position and Cody Balogh was at right tackle in practice Tuesday. What’s happening at guard? I know the new guy Frank Omiyale is working at left guard but how are both the left and right guard spots going to work out?

Jay E., Michigan

A: You got the breakdown at tackle for the first day right but the action changed today as Omiyale was moved to right tackle.

Let me tell you what I have seen for two days at guard.

Josh Beekman has been working with the first team at left guard and Omiyale was been with the second team before his move.

At right guard, Roberto Garza is working with the first team and Dan Buenning has been behind him when he hasn’t been serving as the backup center.

I talked to offensive coordinator Ron Turner about the arrangement and he said the plan was for Beekman and Omiyale to do battle at left guard and Garza and Buenning to work at right guard. That could still be the idea but until another tackle is added, pencil in Omiyale at right tackle. If Omiyale moves back to guard, it will be to start. He wasn’t signed to add depth. Buenning is a challenger but the club remains happy with Garza. The great thing, Jay, is there are six months until the regular season begins. There’s bound to be a few twists in the road before we get there.

Q: Do you think there’s a possibility the Bears could swing a three-team trade? I was thinking something along the lines of the Bears send their first- and second-round picks to Arizona, the Cardinals send Anquan Boldin and a second-round pick to Denver and the Bears get Jay Cutler. It might take more picks, but do you think that could potentially work? Cleveland could be another trade partner with their two quarterbacks.

Nick, North Dakota

A: So the Broncos would trade their quarterback in Cutler to acquire Boldin and pair him with Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal? Someone has to throw them the ball, right? I don’t think so. Plus, no one is going to need to send a first and second to acquire Boldin. There is more and more buzz that Boldin isn’t valued by those in the league what some think he is. He’s a successful possession receiver in a wide-open passing offense with a terrific quarterback. And his numbers have been dipping. To address the Cleveland portion of your question, the Browns would be more likely to deal with Denver directly for Cutler than funnel some deal through the Bears. I don’t see the Bears being in play for Cutler if he reaches the market. Kyle Orton is 15-2 as a starter at Soldier Field. The Bears believe in him. I don’t see Jerry Angelo wavering off of that. He might be wrong, but I don’t see him wavering.

Q: Hey Brad, any insight into Lovie Smith’s new role as the play caller for the defense? How does that change his work on the field during practice?

Sudeep B., Oregon

A: Considering we only get to see practice in a few offseason workouts and then during training camp, I can’t base this on anything other than that. The Bears don’t believe in providing much access and have in fact shielded media further this week forcing them to watch the team portions of practice–7-on-7 and 11-on-11–from a field away. You never know how much damage the media can do in mid-March. Smith has always spent time with the defense and now is no exception. He spent some time today doing individual work with the safeties and remember, he’s coaching nickel back Danieal Manning again.

Q: I am glad the Bears got right to work this week to erase the bad memories I had about last season also. Bears news beats the worthless spring training news and whatever college basketball activity might be going on. What is the schedule for the Bears after this week and when is the next minicamp? They need the work.

Francisco Z., Chicago

A: You’ll be disappointed to know the collective bargaining agreement allows teams to conduct only one full-squad minicamp during the course of the offseason. Teams that have coaching changes are allowed to have two to help them get up to speed. The Bears will hold a rookie minicamp the weekend after the draft, but that is the only remaining minicamp. Typically, they’ve always had the minicamp then and then had the mandatory full-squad one about a month or so later. That gave the rookies time to get acclimated a little and then allowed them to work with the veterans. Smith found it more beneficial to mix it up this year.

The Bears will be off following Thursday’s practice. Players are not asked–the offseason program is voluntary–to return until April 6. That is when the offseason workout program starts up. There’s no minicamp then. They’ll work out in the weight room and do some very minor drills on the field. That runs for four weeks in April, four days a week, and then in the first three weeks of May.

OTA’s start May 20. There is an OTA on May 21 and then players are off until June 1 when OTA’s run for three weeks with four per week for a total of 14 OTA days. The offseason program concludes June 18 and then the players will have roughly five weeks off before training camp. Because the first Sunday of the regular season isn’t until Sept. 10, camp might not open until about July 28. That date has not been fixed yet and will not become official until the preseason schedule is set. Training camp opens 15 days before the first preseason game.

Thank you for all of the participation and questions. As always, thanks for reading. We’re going to do one more Q&A this week on Friday. Get your questions in.

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