By Bryan Dietzler
With one preseason game in the books, the Bears have a little bit better idea of what direction they are going to go with some of the players they have on the roster. Chicago’s offensive line promises to be a strong one in 2017. With the depth, they have, even if someone gets hurt they will be able to recover and do well with their backups. This is something that Chicago has struggled with last season. Now, thanks to some fine maneuvering by General Manager Ryan Pace, it looks like the Bears could be set up to survive over the long haul.
Chicago has had some decent play from their offensive line over the last couple of seasons. Thanks to the addition of such talent as Kyle Long, Chicago has enjoyed some consistency. Now, this unit is ready to shine.
Last time I took a look at the offensive tackles and centers for the Bears. This time, I am going to look at all of the players currently listed at the guard position. We will look at how they got to Chicago, what they did last season and what will happen to them when final cuts are made before the start of the 2017 NFL season.
(NOTE: In my previous post, I had Brandon Greene listed with offensive tackles. He is a guard. My apologies).
To some, Long may be the best player that the Bears have on their roster right now. He has been the most consistent when he’s in the game and has been the most decorated of all the Bears’ current players. After some switching from guard to tackle and back again and now to left guard, he is set at guard and ready to go. But, he has been limited in camp due to an ankle injury he suffered last season. He had surgery on the ankle last year and missed the end of the 2016 season.
Outlook: The coaching staff is being very cautious in bringing Long back to full speed. He has been held out of most training camp drills in an effort not to reinjure his ankle. There is some debate as to whether he will be ready for the start of the season. When he is ready, he will start, and he will play well. Long will take a bigger role as a leader on this Bears this season as well.
He just may be Chicago’s most important player right now.
Morgan came to the Bears as a fifth round selection out of tiny Kutztown in Pennsylvania. Incidentally, he was the only offensive lineman drafted by the Bears in 2017. Morgan will be in the mix for a backup spot at the guard position this season. He comes to the Bears with good physical stature and a skill set that can only get better. He does need some help with run blocking and some of the basics but he has a lot of potential.
Outlook: Morgan is not a lock to make the team despite the fact they used a draft pick on him. Still, he has a good chance of getting on the practice squad at the very least but I think he will make the active roster. Unless he gets hurt, expect him to be with the team as a backup guard for the entire season possibly inactive on game days unless there is an injury. With further development, his time will come in 2018 and beyond.
Poehls is one of this writer’s favorite players. He has a lot of potential and the Bears are starting to realize it. Poehls came into the league as an offensive tackle but Chicago has been using him at guard during the preseason. Poehls has seen time at both spots during camp. He was listed as a backup at right guard in the latest depth chart and played there in Chicago’s first preseason game. Poehls has fantastic size, standing 6-8 weighing 344 pounds but just needs some polish and experience to become an effective backup.
Outlook: The nice thing about Poehls is that he can play either guard tackle. He has had a decent training camp so if he can continue to develop and show his value, he will earn a roster spot. Being able to play two positions will give Chicago some incentive to keep him on the active roster. You can expect to Poehls in a Bears’ uniform this season.
Richardson is a three year player out of Baylor who came to the Bears after spending some time with the Buffalo Bills. He hasn’t seen an NFL game yet and may not this season. He came into the league with great size for the position, good hands and the ability to play both guard and tackle. Richardson is going to need to develop some more to become an effective NFL player but he has the talent to do so.
Outlook: After a difficult camp, Richardson may not even end up on the practice squad this season. The talent ahead of him is just too good. But if the Bears suffer an injury they may call upon him as a backup. But Richardson’s future in the league may not be with the Bears, however. He needs some good preseason game play to last through final cuts but he’s likely going to end up somewhere else.
Sitton was a real find for the Bears after he was let go by the Green Bay Packers in last year’s final cuts. Sitton had a strong year for Chicago despite the fact he was injured a little bit. This year, he will man the right guard position and be a leader on offense along with Long. But after ten seasons in the NFL, time has taken its toll on Sitton. Could he be reaching the end of the line?
Outlook: Sitton will be the starter at the right guard position when the season begins. Flipping him and Long should work well. Hopefully, he can hold up and stay healthy to help keep the right guard position manned all season. Sitton might be out a game or two with injuries or rest but he needs to hold up and make it through the season. He might play one more year after 2017 but his career is coming to an end soon and he will retire.
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