It was to be the dramatic showdown of training camp.
In one corner was to stand J'Marcus Webb. 6'8". 335 pounds. Drafted in the seventh round by the Bears,Webb has played a full season at both tackle positions. While he's clearly been improving a technique to go along with his freakish physical stature, Webb was the single most maligned Chicago Bear of the 2011 season not called Caleb Hanie.
In the other corner would be Christopher Joseph "Chris" Williams. 6'6". 315 pounds. Drafted fourteenth overall by Jerry Angelo to be the franchise left tackle for the Bears organization. Injury here. Injury there. Demoted inside to left guard in 2011, Williams looked like he was finally finding a home in the NFL. Injury again.
They were, these two very large men, destined to battle camp practice after camp practice for the starting left tackle position. They would battle for the right - nay the privilege - to protect the blindside of the first franchise quarterback in Chicago Bears history. It was my firm belief that this battle would reach its pinnacle under the primetime lights of the that giant air conditioner in the swamp - the Meadowlands - as Webb and Williams would come under the onslaught of the world championship trio of Tuck, Umenyiora and JPP. It would be glorious.
And then it ended. Just like that. It took half a week for Chris Williams to start working with the #2s behind right tackle Gabe Carimi, not Webb. It took half a week for Lovie Smith and almost all of the establishment media to acknowledge that it will be J'Marcus Webb lining up at left tackle for the Bears when they meet the Indianapolis Colts in a month or so. It took half a week for Lovie, Mike Tice & company to illustrate what a sham the whole battle was to begin with.
Is this final? Probably not. Like I said earlier in the week, if Robert Mathis torches Webb for three sacks on opening day I'd be shocked if pressure does force the offensive coaching staff to make a change at the position. Is it surprising? Yes and no.
What's surprising about the move is that it is the left tackle position. Why not truly challenge Webb? Even if you do not plan on giving anyone else the gig, why not at least give the appearance of a challenge for the duration of training camp? Webb is charged with protecting the franchise. Is this coaching staff willing to risk their tenure without so much as competition?anchise?
What's not surprising? A fake camp battle. Lovie does as Lovie pleases and this decision was clearly made before Bourbonnais, before OTAs. Hell this was a decision made prior to the draft. As Bears fans we must hope. Hope that a decision made in March leads to success in February.
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