LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears reshuffled the offensive line during the bye week, and hit Halas Hall Monday to prepare for Sunday’s road game against the Green Bay Packers with second-year veteran Jordan Mills manning the left guard spot.
Normally the starter at right tackle, Mills will fill in at left guard to replace Matt Slauson, who suffered a season-ending torn right pectoral muscle in the club’s Oct. 26 loss at New England.
“Now, instead of making tackle calls, I’m making guard calls and I’ve just get that all down pat, which I have,” Mills said. “Throughout the bye week I have been studying and have been in contact with Slau[son] and everybody else, and they’ve been all ears, giving me pointers here and there. So it’s the same communication, just different calls.”
Mills missed the club’s loss to the Patriots due to left foot soreness he’s still experiencing after undergoing surgery during the offseason. With Mills out of action against the Patriots, Michael Ola took over at right tackle and the club plans to keep the latter in that position.
Mills started all 16 games at right tackle last season and seven games this year at the position, and said the injured foot “is feeling great” after missing one contest and spending another week recovering. Mills admitted to the foot injury being “frustrating” because it has caused him to struggle for the majority of the season.
Starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod said that in Millls’ transition from tackle to guard, it’s going to be “important to get in there and feel out the way of how guards are supposed to perform,” and admitted “it’s not going to be an easy transition.”
Still, Bears coach Marc Trestman believes Mills possesses the physical skill set to excel at the guard position.
“He has all the skill set to be able to do that. He’s big, strong. He’s got long arms. He’s quick. A player playing at the tackle position is generally as athletic a player as you have in the offensive line, so to move him inside and still have that skill set -- he’s got all the tools necessary to play the position, certainly,” Trestman said. “We’re going to take a good look at it.”
Trestman’s reluctance to move Ola from right tackle to Slauson’s guard position stems from the former “starting to get comfortable in that position,” according to the coach. Trestman stressed the Bears “haven’t locked in anything” regarding Mills' move to left guard. Veteran Eben Britton appears to be the only other viable option at left guard, but he recently underwent an appendectomy and is considered week to week.
“It’s different,” Mills said. “Instead of having a 260- [or] 270-[pound] 4.5 or 4.6 guy coming off the edge wide, you have a 300-pound plus dude in 3-technique that’s right there in your face. So that’s what I’ve got to get used to. If my team needs to play a position, I’m going to do it.”