Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz gave what in reality -- that is, relative to the general optimism of training camp -- was a tepid endorsement of the offensive line when he spoke to the media Tuesday at training camp.
With a group that worked just to get to an acceptable level in the second half last season and will be without center Olin Kreutz, Martz could hardly rave about the offensive line. It sounds like he's putting much of his faith in (1) offensive line coach Mike Tice; and (2) better use of his tight ends in the run game, especially short-yardage situations, than he had last season.
I'll give him this much: It's not blind optimism on either count. Tice is an excellent line coach with credentials; the tight-end thing just sounds like it makes a lot of sense. At least now it's clear what their role is.
It's probably worth noting that of the five likely starters on the offensive line, guard Chris Williams is the only one Martz DID NOT mention.
So, for what it's worth, here is Martz's take on the Bears' offensive line:
''There's a couple of things with the line that are very, very encouraging, that people outside the program wouldn't realize. First of all, Garza had a terrific year. He played exceptionally well.
''Moving J'Marcus [Webb] back to the left side; he's probably a little more comfortable. He's very athletic. The progress that that group made together, the second half of the season, and continued to get better every week. And we've kind of picked up with that.''
''Now [rookie Gabe] Carimi, as he comes in, is going to learn what's going on. But he's not intimidated by anything now. He's got that great work ethic. He's athletic. He's what we were looking for. He's going to help us at the tackle position. We think we've resolved some of those issues.
''Obviously, we miss Olin. It was unexpected, and it hurts all of us. We're very attached to Olin. But, at this point, the five that we have in there, we're very comfortable with and we're happy with the progress that we're making and very encouraged by it. and Mike [Tice] is, obviously, the guy you want coaching those guys.''