The Bears' offensive line will be under the microscope when training camp practice begins Thursday at Olivet Nazarene University. And while the battle between J'Marcus Webb and Chris Williams at left tackle and the return of Gabe Carimi at right tackle will be the main focus, Mike Tice also will bear watching. How much of a hand will he have on the offensive line?
Tice is revered by his linemen and given much of the credit for whatever success the line had the past two seasons. (Don't laugh. The Bears were sixth in the NFL in rushing yards per game and per attempt last season; and Jay Cutler was sacked just nine times in his last seven games before suffering a season-ending injury -- it wasn't all Cutler and Matt Forte.)
Tice's promotion to offensive coordinator could impact the dynamic between Tice and his lineman. But that's not the case, said veteran center and team captain Roberto Garza.
''He's still the o-line coach even though he's the offensive coordinator. That's important to us because we know we play better under him,'' Garza said.
Tice still will be in the offensive line meeting room during the week.
''If you know Tice, you know he's going to be there,'' Garza said. ''He's still going to be very involved in what we're doing and coaching us. That's the good thing for us. He brings a lot to the table with his experience and playing and then coaching for as long as he has. We're only going to get better. And every year we've seen a little improvement. It's time to take a big jump.''
Almost on cue, Tice walked over and interrupted Garza to talk shop. ''Excuse me. I wanted to remind you of something I missed [in the position meeting],'' Tice told him.
''That's what we're getting,'' Garza said when Tice was finished. ''We're getting a guy who sees all the details and it's going to make us better. We're fortunate to have a guy like him.''