Although Williams split time with J'Marcus Webb at left tackle during the workout at Olivet Nazarene University, Bears coach Lovie Smith reiterated the job remains up for competition.
“All positions are open,” Smith said.
Speaking in general terms during his opening remarks after practice, Smith expressed disappointment with the team’s effort in a 31-3 loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night in the preseason opener, but revealed “we had a couple of players that showed us that they belong and those guys will start getting more reps.”
While it wasn’t clear whether Smith was referring specifically to Williams, the staff certainly gave the former first-round pick more repetitions. Just last week, Williams had been working with the second team at right tackle behind Gabe Carimi.
In the exhibition opener, Williams played extensively at right tackle, primarily with the second- and third-teamers.
“Coach told me to get some work at left tackle today,” Williams said. “That was it.”
Early in camp, the Bears utilized a rotation at left tackle consisting of Webb taking most repetitions with the starters one day, and Williams doing the same the next as the two competed for the starting left tackle position. On Aug. 1, however, the rotation changed, with Webb taking most of the practice snaps with the starters and Williams moving over to the right side where he backed up Gabe Carimi.
That day, Williams said he just wanted “to get a fair shot at starting; don’t care where, never have cared where.”
But when the Bears released their unofficial depth chart last week leading into the preseason opener, the club listed Webb as the starting left tackle although both Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Tice maintained the competition wasn’t over.
The club made that even more apparent with the latest move. Smith was reluctant to discuss positives when asked about Williams’ performance Thursday night against the Broncos. Webb, meanwhile, committed one of the offensive line’s three false-start penalties against the Broncos.
“No one played well,” Smith said. “A few guys played well. So we weren’t pleased -- starting with me on down -- with our effort. We can’t say an awful lot.”
Center Roberto Garza said Webb “went out there and learned from what he was doing and got better as the game went on” Thursday night against the Broncos.
Perhaps that wasn’t enough.
Tice has said the club wants to solidify its starting lineup on the offensive line as soon as possible. But it’s likely the team will wait to see how Williams and Webb perform in another preseason game before naming a starter.
Williams didn’t seem to be affected positively or negatively by what appeared Thursday to be a promotion.
“I just do what I’m told. It’s all O-line, man,” Williams said. “It’s hands and feet. So (I) just go out and work. It’ll work itself out.”