In the last two weeks the Chicago Bears have lost three starters at the offensive guard position. Chilo Rachal was demoted, quit the team, and subsequently returned only to be placed on the non-football injury reserve list.
From there Chris Spencer and Lance Louis were injured in the game against the Minnesota Vikings, with Louis going down for the season with a knee injury. Spencer it has been reported that he suffered anything from torn cartilage to a bruised knee with no timetable to return.
If Spencer is slated to miss some extended time, the Bears may be forced to start Gabe Carimi at right guard. After Chilo Rachal was dealt with, the Bears went out and picked up second year guard Chris Riley. Riley I don't anticipate being moved up the roster given he's just beginning to learn the Bears' system.
The Bears could also look to start James Brown at right guard given he's been on the practice squad for some time and was practicing as a guard for a bit during training camp. Brown seems to be the ideal candidate to play guard given his size and athleticism. At 6-foot-4 306-pounds Brown is not too short for the OT spot, but he's better suited for a guard spot.
If Spencer does not miss any game time then Bears' offensive coordinator Mike Tice would be smart to start Spencer at right guard. Spencer, as we know, played right guard at a high level in 2011 and should have never been moved from that spot.
This would allow the Bears to keep Edwin Williams at left guard, the position he's ideally suited to play based on his performance of last season. Williams played well at left guard and is far more comfortable at the spot than Spencer is.
The question is just how insistent will Mike Tice be in forcing Spencer to play the left guard spot given he's been practicing and playing there all season? Tice's inflexibility on who plays where on the offensive line could very well come back to hurt the Bears in this situation.
Arguably, the best starting guard tandem from the 2011 season was the Chris Spencer at right guard and Edwin Williams left guard lineup. Williams was solid in pass protection and Spencer was the best overall offensive line performer of the 2011 season.
While it is unfortunate that the Bears are dealing with so many injuries, in this case there may be an actual opportunity for Mike Tice to get it right.