Chicago Sun-Times

Beekman: Competition for left guard spot only makes team better

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The offensive line had a new look when the Bears opened the doors at Halas Hall for their OTA on Wednesday.

Orlando Pace looked to be in the kind of top shape the team advertised when they signed him within minutes of trading for Jay Cutler on April 2. He was installed at left tackle, the spot manned by John St. Clair last season and John Tait for the three seasons prior to that. Chris Williams, the 2008 first-round pick, is getting more comfortable at right tackle. But the makeover might not be done yet. Most expect Frank Omiyale, who the team signed hours into the free agency period, will claim the left guard job sooner or later. Sooner could be by the start of training camp. But Josh Beekman has not relinquished anything yet.

"It is a competition,'' Beekman said. "Frank is a great guy and he is a competitor. He is going to make the Bears better. If he beats me out, he makes the Bears better. If I win my spot back, hopefully I make the Bears better. Competition breeds success. They brought him in and Frank is a hard worker."

Beekman was a fourth-round pick from Boston College in 2007. He wasn't used as a rookie and it looked like St. Clair would eventually land the left guard job last summer until Williams went down with back surgery. Beekman stepped in after Terrence Metcalf underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and he didn't look back. He was on the field for all but five snaps during the season as the Bears were one of just six clubs to have all five offensive linemen start 16 games.

The knock on Beekman coming out of school was he was undersized. The club lists him at 6-2, 310 pounds. He said he's been working with strength and conditioning coach Rusty Jones to increase his lean mass, but the Bears have started their goal to get bigger on the line and Omiyale is listed at 6-4, 310. Ultimately, the decision could weigh on the size of a contract. Omiyale signed a four-year deal worth as much as $14 million and he will collect $6.3 million of the $11.5 million base value this season. The thinking by some is Beekman could eventually take over for veteran center Olin Kreutz, but he's signed through 2010 and could look to play beyond that. Beekman will be a free agent (provided there is a CBA extension) following the '10 season.

"We'll see what happens at the end of the camp,'' Beekman said. "Olin sat me down and coached me a lot. [Line coach] Harry [Hiestand] was a great influence on me. Luckily, I have he bar set high with Olin, with the example of what you need to do to be a great O-lineman. I get to watch every day and see how good I have to be.''

Omiyale worked with the second team at left guard. At some point, he will probably be worked in for first team reps.

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While I don't dislike Beekman, I think he's a quality backup caliber player, I don't think he is the nasty road grader that the Bears need at left guard. That being said, I don't know if anyone knows if Omilaye is either, if nothing else, he's bigger than Beekman. No way is Beekman 310 - 295, tops.

Brad, I like what you have to say about the competition at left guard. The only problem I had is when you said "Ultimately, the decision could weigh on the size of a contract." I sure hope money doesn't influence who starts at left guard? Hopefully the coaching staff will start the best player for the position, and to me, its Beekman.

Also, I still can't see how the 6-4 310lb Omiyale would increase the size of the Bears offensive line over the 6-2 310lb Beekman. The fact Omiyale is taller and at about the same weight doesn't seem like much of a size increase to me. Actually with Omiyale being taller his weight would be more spread out than the short but yet stout Beekman, Omiyale would be a lot slimmer being taller.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the Omiyale signing, you need competition and depth, especially on the offensive line. I just don't know if Omiyale, who hasn't played a lot of guard throughout his career, will be able to push Beekman who has been a guard since high school. Also, Beekman was basically a rookie last season [playing wise], so he might not have been at the top of his game being a first time starter. I think with the added competition of Omiyale, and the fact he already has a year under his belt as a starter and knows the offense better than Omiyale, might give Beekman the advantage. I think Beekman could really come on this year and be a pleasant surprise now that he knows the offense, maybe I'm wrong, but I wouldn't crown Omiyale as the starting left guard just yet, either way its gonna be interesting GO BEARS!!

who can eyeball the difference between 310 and 295?

Apparently, Mel Jr can. :)

Brad, who played the LG snaps that Beekman missed and why did he miss them? I don't remember Metcalf even seeing the field last year.

Why not leave Beekman at LG and put Omilyale at RG in place of Garza or vice versa. Play those 2 and bench Garza. He flat out sucks and I am not the only one who see's it.

Brad: Why are the Bears so high on Garza???


@ InScoresofOtherGames. I can tell the difference, I think u would too if u gained 15 pounds or lost 15 pounds.

I like Beekman. Garza is the one who is not agressive he is more finesse.I want Garza out

Dice I second that motion. Garza had 1 good year in 06. Up to this point I havent seen much improvement from him. I really really hope he is not going to be the starting guard just because of money alone. Every damn time the Bears ran on his side it seems that a defender would get a hand on Forte. Pass blocking well Garza cant pass block for crap. Getting a push well he doesnt do well in that category either. So really why is he still the projected starter?

Fellas, I'm with you on the Garza decision. The only way Omiyale should be playing LG, is if Beeks take over for Olin at Center. I thought Beekman was one of the bright spots on the line last year. Where as, Olin and Garza were actually the weak links. As mentioned above, that was Beeks first year as a starter. With another offseason under his belt, he should be even better. The focus was to get younger, faster legs on that O-line. If that is true, then letting Omiyale battle for the RG position against Garza would be best at this point in time! Contracts should definitely not become a factor when we are talking of protecting our new franchise QB. May the best men win! Go Bears!!!

What's up with Dan Buenning? Will he ever get a chance to start? How big is he? Just wondered. BEAR DOWN!

Well put Reggie. Getting the best O-line on the field is critical.

This is the time of year everybody likes to talk about the merits of competition for roster spots and playing time, well, where is Olin's competition? It should be Beekman. Hopefully the coaches take a long look at him there in camp; right it seems they are not thinking too much about it.

At that Bear's event the other day when Frank Omiyale was leaving I asked for his autograph and asked him to sit Garza down. I havent been big on Garza since Chris Harris blew him up. I was big on him in 2006 and felt that he was a good signing but things change. I know getting blown up happens it's just that he got blowed up real good.

Love to see Omiyale at LG, Olin at C and Beekman at RG to see how they do. Seems on paper like the best OL. I haven't seen for myself, but it was written that Omiyale has a powerful base, better for run blocking etc.

I agree Garza is the weak link, I don't understand the love fest with Garza he moved no one on short yardage he was a turnstile in pass protection why is he even still on this roster? I wish they had a stat for QB hits/chases and blown assignments it would show how really bad he was. Instead of worrying about Beekman they need to worry about Garza. And can anyone tell me what happened to Buenning was he a waste or is his reputation as a mauler false if not isn't that the type of attitude you want?

They list Buenning at 6'4" 320 pounds.

Ron Turner stated earlier that Buenning and Garza would compete for the starting RG position. The coaches like Garza but they know that the short yardage woes last season accross the O-line needs to addressed. It seems that come training camp, the only O-line position that won't have a new face or competiton is Center with Olin Kruetz. You could see a new player at the other (4) spots. Pace at LT, Omiyale at LG, Buenning possibly beating out Garza at RG and Chris Williams or Kevin Shaffer at RT.

Pace, Omiyale and Buenning all would add more beef to the Line then last years parts they would replace. Williams is listed as 6'6" 312 pounds which is the exact same measurables as John Tait. Kevin Shaffer is listed at 6'5" 315 pounds which is practically a wash so RT will have a player roughly the same size as last season. It's Angelo's vision to get bigger upfront so it seems the Bears are definetly on the right track.

Should be a very interesting pre-season with plenty of position battles going on.

Go Bears !!

We all seem to agree on Garza, I thought Buenning had a real good history then was injured if my memory is correct, well sometimes injuries never heal correctly, just a total assumption on my part as I would like to see Buenning as well, and I felt Beekman played a great 1st year, I mean Olin still has a year or 2 left but Beekman should be competing with him. (no offense Olin your Da Bear for real) or Beekman should get this year with Garza out and if Buenning is not the replacement then Beekman should get that shot but Garza needs to sit no matter what.
But I think its what Olin says it is guys. If Olin says Garza still has it then we already know Garza starts.
Wow no arguments about JA not getting us a line this year??? Never saw that since what? 2004?

Beekman was the Bears' youngest, quickest and most energetic blocker in 2008. In college, he was the ACC's top blocker as a Center for Boston College.

The article only emphasizes the team's crushing need for competition at the center position. 2010 is too long.

Between Omiyale, Beekman and Kreutz, Kreutz is the oldest and smallest. Leadership and experience may increase his value to the organization (he is an All-time Great), but he is least equipped to anchor the line against Minnesota. Remember Pat/Kevin Williams, Kampman, Raji, Hawk...?

Frankly, he makes bad snaps.

Take the Yellow Jersey off and let Beekman try to unseat Kreutz. If it's the end of Kreutz's career, it will be for a great cause-domination of our division rivals.

At 6'5" 315, Shaffer certainly has the size to play RG. As a tackle, you would think that he has some footwork and drive blocking skills. Size. He should be allowed to compete with Garza at RG. SIze. I can't stop thinking about Pat Williams...

Garza and Kreutz are simply entrenched veterans. They are the equivalent of statesmen,kings, lions-It is hard to throw them in with the wolves and jackals. Unfortunately, on sundays they are playing against monsters...

Competition for everyone, not just the young guy with potential...the one brought in to bring competition to an aging veteran line 3 years ago.

Jerry Angelo jr, actually, Josh Beekman only played center for two games as a senior at Boston College. He spent the rest of his career as a guard, and yes, he was one of the best blockers in the ACC, and again, as mostly a guard. I think Beekman will continue to improve as a guard if he remains the starter. The thinking that just because Frank Omiyale is two inches taller and will give the Bears more push inside is a little off. If Omiyale was 6-4 and 320-330ish, maybe. But only being 2 inches taller and at about the same weight, not likely. I still think Beekman, who is a more natural guard than Omiyale, would be the best fit at left guard for Chicago.

I also disagree with you about Olin Kreutz, I still think he's one of the better centers in the league. Maybe not top 3 like he was a few seasons back, but still top 10, and thats still pretty good.

In my opinion, Chicago should go with Kreutz at center, Beekman at left guard, and the 6-4 320lb Dan Buenning on the right side, we'll see during camp how it all folds out GO BEARS!!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on May 22, 2009 8:35 AM.

Four Down Territory, May 21: Ranking some of the Bears' concerns was the previous entry in this blog.

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