LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Mike Tice spoke in general terms on Thursday about the importance of certain offensive linemen "earning their checks" when the Bears square off against the Detroit Lions on Monday.
While Tice was careful not to single out any specific player, it's clear the message applies to veteran Frank Omiyale, who the team is preparing to start at right tackle at Ford Field. Omiyale, who signed a four-year deal that included a $3.7 million roster bonus in 2009, is scheduled to earn a base salary this year of $1.6 million.
"At a certain point, guys have to start earning their checks," Tice said.
To portray Omiyale's career in Chicago entirely in a negative light would be unfair, but the lineman's struggles at both guard and tackle have been well documented. Omiyale, who has started the past two games at right tackle in place of injured rookie Gabe Carimi, was pulled in favor of Louis for the majority of the second half in the 34-29 victory over Carolina, after Omiyale surrendered a sack to Charles Johnson in the second quarter.
But considering how difficult it is to block Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with two good hands, the Bears are nervous about starting Chris Spencer at guard on Monday night. Spencer suffered a fractured right hand in the win against the Panthers, and was limited in practice on Thursday. Louis did a respectable job versus Suh last year, so the Bears are leaning toward sliding Louis back inside to right guard, which means Omiyale could make his third consecutive start at right tackle.
Expect the Bears to give Omiyale plenty of help in the form of tight ends and chipping backs.
"Frank is like many players, when you have some bad plays you can't compound those with other bad plays," Tice said. "You try to minimize the amount of bad plays you have in succession. So, that's what we are trying to do with Frank. We are trying to keep his bad plays to sporadic, as opposed to back to back."
Carimi could be back in time to face the Vikings on Oct. 16, although most partially dislocated knee caps take approximately four to six weeks to properly heal.