With Louis ill, Spencer gets first-team reps

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears were able to catch a glimpse at a possible future offensive line configuration when starting right guard Lance Louis was forced to leave the practice field early Wednesday due to an illness.

Louis' absence allowed the Bears to shift Roberto Garza back to his old spot at right guard and insert Chris Spencer at center with the first team during team drills.

The move, however, isn't permanent and occurred because Louis left the field prematurely, according to Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice.

"We kind of got lucky a little bit," Tice said. "Lance is going to be okay, obviously, but we were able to make a move and take a look without turning it into a saga.'

"It'll be a good film for me to look at and see Chris in there with the No. 1 [team] and Roberto back over to the right side. Lance took ill so we had to pull him, the trainers didn't know if it was heat related. So we just got to show our depth a little bit."

The Bears signed Spencer -- a former first-round pick and starting offensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks -- after the organization failed to come to terms on a new deal with veteran Olin Kreutz. Since arriving in Chicago, Spencer has primarily taken the second team reps at center.

"He's a veteran guy and knows the game, but [this is] a little bit different system," Tice said. "He's only played in a West Coast system. The pulling and maybe the power run blocking, the double teams are a little different. He's working his way through it. He's accepting coaching very, very well. He's done an excellent job for us and he's a good leader too. He knows how to take charge in the huddle. There's a lot to like about Chris."

Earlier in the day, offensive coordinator Mike Martz echoed Tice's sentiments that Spencer is still adjusting to the new offense.

"With Spencer, he's got a little time to go with that [learning the offense]," Martz said. "With the calls and the protections and all the different things that do happen with you...the pressures and those types of things."

Tice left open the possibility last week that Spencer could begin to work in with the No. 1 team if the offensive line "faltered" in the preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills. Even though the Bears surrendered nine sacks to the Bills, the same starting five lineman are expected to start Monday night versus the New York Giants.