For months, we've been discussing the Chicago Bears' offensive line* with a presumed asterisk. All five of their starting positions were pending post-lockout moves. We wouldn't know their first-team lineup, it seemed, until the start of training camp.
Even now, however, it's impossible to know if what the Bears trotted out during their opening practice Saturday in any way resembles their intentions for Week 1 of the regular season. For the record, here is what they used during the early portion of team drills:
Left tackle: Frank Omiyale
Left guard: Chris Williams
Center: Roberto Garza
Right guard: Lance Louis
Right tackle: J'Marcus Webb
Here's what I think we can glean from that grouping:
The Bears aren't eager to move Webb to left tackle, as some have discussed this offseason. If they were, it stands to reason he would have opened training camp there even if the rest of the group is in flux.
For similar reasons, it appears the Bears want Williams to be their left guard first and foremost. They could conceivably work him at left tackle or even a center, but if they wanted him to play either of those positions on Sept. 11, you would think they would have started him there right away.
Garza is at center because Olin Kreutz remains unsigned. The Bears would much prefer to play Garza at right guard, but in the short-term it couldn't hurt them to get Garza some work as an emergency center. The real question is if he would be their answer if Kreutz pulls a surprise and signs elsewhere.
Where does this leave rookie Gabe Carimi? For the moment, it's no surprise that he wasn't working with the first team in his first NFL practice. But he will get his work at left tackle, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes, and at some point this summer he should overtake Omiyale. In that scenario, Omiyale could ultimately serve as an expensive but experienced backup at both guard and tackle positions.