On the first practice of training camp, Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice was already down to his third option at center.
Fixture Olin Kreutz is unsigned, and last year's backup center, Edwin Williams, cannot practice until Friday because of the new CBA rules for restricted free agents who signed their tenders Friday. That meant Roberto Garza, who started most of last season at right guard, took snaps with the first team offense.
"I can't coach someone that's not here," Tice said. "But I can certainly coach the guys that are here and try to put together the best five quickly, and much more quickly than last year."
Tice said he'd "love to have" Kreutz back but that he understood the "business" of the NFL.
"And what I have to have in place is a plan for us, for my bosses and my peers, that's going to enable us to win if we don't get him back," Tice said. "That's where my mind is at right now."
The starting lineup doesn't mean much now, with players in shorts after an offseason demolished by the lockout.
And while Tice acknowledged that he would have experimented more if he'd had an offseason with these players, he still gave Chris Williams -- the former first-round pick who was drafted as a left tackle -- some snaps at center.
The 6 foot 6 Williams bobbled about three snaps and certainly didn't look polished, which wasn't a surprise to Tice. Williams finished last season at left guard.
"I wanted to give Chris a couple of snaps," Tice said. "We have to develop depth, one way or another, with veteran guys."
Tice tinkered with the lineup plenty last training camp, but he said that won't be as necessary this year. He doesn't have as much time to work with the players and he knows most of them. But, he's still trying to get a handle on first-round pick Gabe Carimi is.
" don't know how athletic Carimi is to decide, 'OK, leave him alone on the left or move him over to the right and switch he and J'Marcus [Webb]?' " Tice said. "The issue I'm running into, not having an offseason, you feel a little less aggressive, as far as making a move."
Asked about the perception that the Bears offensive line needs another blue-chip player, Tice said, "We just drafted a left tackle in the first round.
"I feel like I've always felt. There's three ways to get better. The way I can get them better is coach better. And I can coach the players I have to get better. You can draft more players. We did that. You can bring in free agents. To this point, we have not. Other than that, I'm not sure there are any other ways to get them better.
"I'm going to control what I can control, which is to coach them better."
So can his unit succeed, without adding anyone?
"Soon to be determined," Tice said. "That's why they pay me the big bucks."