Ellis: If I was to panic about the Bears' offensive line, here's how it would sound


(670 The Score) I failed Wordle on Tuesday. Coyly?!? What an unbelievably stupid word. After spending one day in exile, my modest win streak is now back at one (1). But them’s the breaks. The worst part wasn’t that I couldn’t guess the (stupid) word coyly – what really stung was the fact that for most of my guesses, I had most of the letters. There I was, wasting my time on words like "local" and "clock" and other guesses that were, as it turns out, even dumber and also not remotely close. It was a lesson in humility that helped me realize how frustrating it can be to have five interchangeable parts with no real sense of correct order. Metaphors!

I’m worried about the Bears’ offensive line. Training camp is barely over a week old and my summer vacation starts this weekend, so I’m not, like, losing sleep over it – but if I had to rank reasons to be concerned about how this roster is going to get its six wins, that unit would be right there at the top. On the surface, rotating players at three of the five spots sounds like an appropriate amount of due diligence. Gotta see what they have, etc. And yeah, that does kind of feel like something that usually gets handled in spring and summer practices, but you just never know how adding pads and Riley Reiff can alter the course of an entire season. So one month before a pivotal season in second-year quarterback Justin Fields’ career is set to kick off, let’s quickly get up to speed on where everything stands with the unit that protects him from getting repeatedly hit by the best athletes on the planet.

ESPN's depth chart lists Reiff as the team’s starting left tackle, but reports on the ground have him splitting time with Larry Borom at *right* tackle. There isn't really a huge difference between those two positions, so no big deal there. The guy running with the 1s on the left has been rookie Braxton Jones, who may eventually be a future All-Pro and the crown jewel of general manager Ryan Poles’ first draft class -- but right now he's rookie Braxton Jones. One spot over is Cody Whitehair, who will forever and always be the Bears' left guard. When the sun explodes and earth falls into an icy and perpetual darkness, Whitehair will notice from his spot at left guard. Center Lucas Patrick broke his hand, which means the next man up is Doug Kramer, another rookie. Having rookies at the two most important positions on the line will probably be fine. Kramer has been splitting reps with Sam Mustipher, who trains with Bears legend Olin Kreutz in the offseason. Normally this is where I’d throw in a trivial one-liner about one or both of them, but for whatever reason I couldn’t think of one this time. I guess everyone chokes occasionally.

Right guard seems like Michael Schofield’s job to lose. Schofield will probably be fine, but he signed with the team on July 25 for a reason. The good news is that if he isn't fine, the Bears have another (!) rookie – Ja'Tyre Carter – who could fill in and continue Poles’ steadfast commitment to the bit. So there you have it: When the Bears open up the season against the 49ers on Sept. 11 at Soldier Field, their offensive line looks to be Braxton Jones (or Larry Borom), Cody Whitehair, Doug Kramer (or Sam Mustipher) until Lucas Patrick returns, Michael Schofield (or Ja’Tyre Carter) and Larry Borom (unless he’s playing left tackle).

We haven’t even had the Teven Jenkins chat yet, which, woof. As someone who has also been devalued by an employer on what sure seemed like literally one day’s notice, I feel for him. Head coach Matt Eberflus claims Jenkins' absence is "100%" injury-related, which sounds a lot like the excuses I make for myself to get out of exercising because I’m sore or because I’m tired or because the sun is out. If gossip is your cup of tea, there’s an abundance of that floating around if you know which sportsbook-sponsored Twitter video monologues to poke around for. Whatever the reason, it’s become fairly clear at this point that Jenkins isn’t going to be kicking dudes out of the club on counter pulls for the Bears anytime soon, if ever. The silver lining? The collectors among you will probably be able to get his jersey at training camp next year for $20.

Truthfully, I’m only panicking because there isn't a lot else to do on Aug. 4. Lines take time to jell, and a new system with a bunch of rookies was never going to impress right off the bat. But the Bears are playing this whole "building the unit that keeps the franchise quarterback healthy" thing a little fast and loose for my liking, which I know is an important part of how you mold your own opinions. It feels like this isn’t going to get resolved anytime soon, either, which is absolutely the Bears’ prerogative. My hope is just that they become a little more transparent about the whole process – no one likes when things are done coyly.

Cam Ellis is a writer for 670 The Score and Audacy Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KingsleyEllis.

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