That’s why he can’t go into Saturday’s matchup against the Washington Redskins with the mentality that it’s just another preseason game.
“I’m not in that position,” Williams said. “Preseason is like a regular game for me. You go out there, you play hard, and you try and win a starting job.”
A candidate competing with third-year veteran J’Marcus Webb for the starting job at left tackle, Williams produced a solid performance in the club’s preseason-opening loss last week to the Denver Broncos, which earned him more repetitions from the coaching staff as it intensifies the evaluation process to nail down the starters as soon as possible.
Webb emerged early as the favorite to win the starting job, and still might be in that position. But Williams knows how he stacks up against Redskins pass rushers such as Brian Orakpo (9 sacks in 2011) and Ryan Kerrigan (7 ½ sacks in 2011) could change the completion of the left-tackle competition.
After all, neither Webb nor Williams is excelling at camp.
Webb is coming off a performance last week that wasn’t “up to par as far as the standards we’re trying to set to protect our quarterbacks,” according to offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who also singled out Williams for having a “solid” outing.
“Not many of us performed the way we needed to last week,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “I assume we’re all going to do a good job this week, left tackle included.”
Williams isn’t reading too much into the team’s decision to give him more repetitions in recent days or the fact Tice wants to see him working against Washington’s starters. Williams just wants a legitimate opportunity to win a starting job, regardless of where.
Webb could make that tougher for him, because he’s come on in recent practices, according to Tice.
“I don’t know if I would (classify) it as a second chance, but it’s a chance for me to go out and win a starting job, which I’ve been trying to do all along,” Williams said. “We’ve all got something to prove. I want to prove I can go out and block anyone, and block people consistently. There’s nothing extra there for me. I’ve been trying all camp to win a starting job. So I’m not going to do anything different.”
There’s a good chance the top performer at left tackle against the Redskins eventually wins the starting job, with the club looking to name its starting five up front as soon as possible so the offensive line can develop cohesion going into the regular season. Typically the third preseason game for teams is somewhat of a dress rehearsal for the regular season, with most teams sitting out starters during the final exhibition matchup.
So if either player is to make a move toward separating themselves as the clear cut starter, preseason Game No. 2 is the time to do it.
Here’s a look at a few matchups to watch Saturday when the Bears host the Redskins at Soldier Field:
RB Matt Forte vs. LB London Fletcher: Without Forte, the Bears managed a paltry 36 rushing yards on 21 attempts last week versus Denver which averaged out to 1.7 yards per carry. A healthy Forte dropped into the mix should help the Bears ground game as the all-purpose tailback is set to see his first live game action (besides the 2012 Pro Bowl) since he injured his MCL last season in Week 13. Fletcher is a highly decorated linebacker entering his 15th NFL season who spent time in St. Louis early in his career with Bears coach Lovie Smith.
DE Shea McClellin vs. QB Robert Griffin III: McClellin had a decent preseason debut in front of the home fans last week as he recorded a sack against Denver quarterback Caleb Hanie. McClellin should have ample opportunities Saturday night to chase down RGIII, who is expected to play around 30-35 snaps. After a slow start to camp, McClellin is now working as an outside rusher in the Bears’ nickel package and will be on the field against Washington in obvious passing situations. Can the Bears’ first-round pick chase down the athletic Griffin -- the No. 2 overall pick and 2011 Heisman trophy winner -- like he did Hanie in the preseason opener?
QB Jay Cutler vs. CB DeAngelo Hall: Cutler helped punch Hall’s ticket to the 2010 Pro Bowl when the cornerback intercepted the Bears quarterback four times in a regular season game at Soldier Field. That game represented rock bottom for Cutler in a Bears uniform, but he has since rebounded and played above average football for the past year and a half. However, Cutler isn’t one to forget and would no doubt relish the chance to burn Hall on a deep pass down the field while the starters are still in the game.