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The left tackle of the future is the left tackle for now as Chris Williams will be moved to that position for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams with veteran Orlando Pace expected to miss with a groin muscle injury.

That's the spot the Bears were going to play the first-round pick from Vanderbilt at last season before he went down with a back injury on the second day of training camp and eventually required surgery. Frank Omiyale is expected to remain at left guard and veteran Kevin Shaffer will play right tackle.

MINNEAPOLIS--The Bears are turning back to one of the men they brought in to improve their offensive line.

Frank Omiyale is expected to start at left guard this afternoon against the Minnesota Vikings.

He will replace Josh Beekman, who has started the last four games. Omiyale started the first six games of the season before the team made the change to Beekman in hopes of jump-starting the moribund running game. The Bears have not run the ball any better with Beekman in the lineup, and they view Omiyale to be a better pass defender. That much was evident when they inserted Omiyale for Beekman at the two-minute warning at San Francisco.

Right guard Roberto Garza is suited up and practicing this morning in the Walter Payton Center after sitting out Wednesday's workout with a right ankle injury.

He is expected to start Sunday's game at Minnesota. Garza was the only player to miss Wednesday's practice. The Bears moved Josh Beekman to right guard and plugged Frank Omiyale in at left guard. Now, they're back with Beekman at left guard.

Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand made it clear when Josh Beekman was inserted into the starting lineup at left guard at the start of the month that the Bears were not writing off the man he replaced, Frank Omiyale.

Sure enough, Omiyale resurfaced in Thursday's loss at San Francisco, replacing Beekman at the two-minute warning while the Bears mounted a comeback effort that fell 12 yards short. Beekman struggled with 49ers defensive end Justin Smith at the beginning of the drive, and the switch was made.

"[Smith] was a big, strong guy. I was coming out battling him,'' Beekman said. "They just wanted to get Frank in there, he's a little bigger, against the guy. It almost worked.''

Beekman said as far as he knows he remains with the first team, and offensive coordinator Ron Turner should be able to address that issue later today. What the move back to Omiyale at the key point in the game does, though, is highlight the reason why the Bears set out in the offseason to find a bigger, more physical replacement for Beekman. That's not to say Beekman didn't do some things well in the game. About the only thing the offense did with any consistency was run some screen passes to running back Matt Forte to the left side, and Beekman and center Olin Kreutz did a nice job getting out on those plays and blocking.

With Frank Omiyale headed to the bench and Josh Beekman becoming the starting left guard, I thought it would be good to dig up some statistics when it comes to pass protection.

Stats Inc. keeps track of the statistic and it should be noted that it's a subjective analysis. Thus far, the Bears have allowed 11 sacks of quarterback Jay Cutler, putting them on pace to have 29. That's the same number they allowed last season with a very different line. The numbers never add up to the exact total because some sacks are deemed coverage sacks or pinned on the quarterback, not a lineman or a blocker.

Here is how the Bears break down right now protecting Cutler:

Orlando Pace 2 1/2
Greg Olsen 2
Garrett Wolfe 2
Chris Williams 1
Roberto Garza 1/2
Olin Kreutz 1/2
Frank Omiyale 1/2

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner wouldn't say if a change is in the works on the offensive line, and Josh Beekman said he was headed to meetings after practice this afternoon, declining to stop and answer questions if he has been working with the first team in practice.

"You'll have to talk to Lovie about that,'' Turner said when asked if Frank Omiyale will maintain his starting job at left guard.

There is a possibility the Bears could rotate left guards starting in Sunday's game vs. Cleveland at Soldier Field.

"We could do anything. Have we talked about it? Are we going to? It hasn't even been discussed,'' Turner said. "We have a bunch of issues we're trying to straighten out. Could we [rotate left guards]? Sure.''

Smith wouldn't address the situation, however.

The Bears just hit the practice fields behind Halas Hall to begin their preparation for Sunday's game at Cincinnati.

Frank Omiyale is expected to remain the starter at left guard based on the information gathered in the locker room. There's been speculation that Josh Beekman, who started 16 games there last season, would replace Omiyale. But the Bears are showing that they believe in taking time to let a unit with three new starters gel. Orlando Pace is new at left tackle and former first-round draft pick Chris Williams is manning right tackle.

Lovie Smith isn't one to discuss personnel moves on Mondays, but you can say this about today's media session for the head coach--he didn't rule out a possible change on the offensive line before the Bears play at Cincinnati on Sunday.

All you need to know about the Bears' effort to run the ball Sunday night at Atlanta is that quarterback Jay Cutler was the game's leading rusher by virtue of a 30-yard dash he made in the fourth quarter. Running back Matt Forte was bottled up, held to a career-low 23 yards on 15 rushes. His long rush was five yards against a Falcons' defense that had consistently been run on in the first month of the season.

It's not like Smith has a range of options. Guard Josh Beekman started 16 games last season and was with the first team through the majority of training camp. He could return to left guard and replace Frank Omiyale. If the Bears wanted to try a new look at tackle, they could turn to Kevin Shaffer, and experienced starter before with Cleveland and Atlanta. If a move is coming, it would most likely involve Beekman only, but Smith spoke mostly in general terms.

"We're 3-2 so the offensive line has done some good things,'' he said. "They've contributed to all of that. Coming off of a loss we're not real pleased with anything we did last night, starting with me. I'm not pleased with a lot of things I did last night. We'll go from there. But our offensive line has done some good things.''

Smith was then asked if he could forecast any changes coming on the line and gave his standard reply for such inquiries--they look at every possible scenario after every single game.

"But I don't foresee any major changes on the offensive line,'' he said.

ATLANTA--How much you want to bet Jay Cutler is willing to wait a long while before his next road Sunday night game?

That's six interceptions for the quarterback on Sunday nighters away from Soldier Field, and the Bears have three more prime time games coming up--Nov. 12 at San Francisco, Nov. 22 vs. Philadelphia and Dec. 28 vs. Minnesota.

But blaming another inconsistent effort on the kickoff time and the venue is ignoring some of the issues the Bears can or should do something about. Atlanta is a solid football team, one that plays well in the Georgia Dome, but this wasn't the class of the NFC the Bears just ran into in their 21-14 loss. The Falcons entered ranked 23rd vs. the run and they stopped the Bears cold. They didn't generate much of a pass rush without blitzing all out, and the Bears didn't hit them with the dagger. Atlanta's secondary has issues and Cutler threw for 300 yards in exposing some of them, but it was the giveaways he had that cost the Bears 10 points--three in the way of a Robbie Gould field goal, and seven in the touchdown the Falcons turned the second pick into in the second quarter.

So, I'll roll through some rapid reaction to this game before packing my bags here:

1. Third-and-one. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner had to be feeling pretty good about things. The Bears entered the game a miserable 2-for-5 on third-and-one conversions through their first four games. It was something they struggled with last season, and the addition of Cutler with a run/pass element was supposed to make things better. The offense encountered two third-and-ones in the first quarter and picked them both up with Cutler throwing to Greg Olsen for a five-yard gain, and then sneaking for two yards. They came out in the third quarter and Cutler picked up another with a sneak and then Matt Forte found a hole by left guard Frank Omiyale for a five-yard game to quickly make the offense 4-for-4 on third-and-one.

Once the Bears got to the goalline, that was a different story. Forte's dive on second-and-goal from the one wasn't close to the end zone and linebacker Curtis Lofton knocked the ball out. Somehow, Forte recovered the ball. Turner went to him with a run left on the very next play, also from the one, and he was stripped by defensive tackle Jonathan Babineuax. It's the hard yard to pick up and when the Bears have had success, they've gone play fake. It's what Cutler tried on first-and-goal from the one and the Falcons had everything covered up. They haven't been able to impose their will on a defense, and Forte's upright running style makes it difficult for him to get that tough yard at times. Fumbling isn't an issue with him. He did it only once last season. But the combination of the line and Forte's lack of explosion has got the run game bottled up right now. It's a combination of both. It should be noted when facing fourth-and-one at the Falcons' five their in the waning seconds, they were going to run another sneak to Cutler before left tackle Orlando Pace lunged forward in a run-blocking effort for a false start. There's no success with the Power-O like they used to have. Turner is going to have to adapt, and do so quickly.

2. While we're mentioning Cutler, those interceptions were game killers for them here. In a lot of ways this was Green Bay all over again. Babineuax was bearing down on him when he tried to hit Devin Hester on a crossing route on the first pick. Never should have thrown the third-down pass. If he tosses it away, Gould drills a 30-yard field goal. It was a momentum killer at the end of a 13-play drive that was taking the antsy crowd slowly out of the game. The second pick was bad any way you slice it. Olsen was covered pretty well and the ball was badly overthrown. Another pick he should have never attempted.

3. The defense accomplished the No. 1 task of stopping running back Michael Turner. He had only 30 yards rushing on 13 carries (2.3 per attempt), and when you look at the numbers it's not like Matt Ryan picked them apart--19-for-33 for 185 yards. But Ryan made the big plays when he needed them, like the 16-yard completion to tight end Tony Gonzalez on third-and-six from the Bears' 37 in the fourth quarter. That set up the go-ahead score.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.--Reports of Frank Omiyale's struggles were, well, greatly premature.

The free-agent pickup will start at left guard tonight, the Bears just announced. He has been running with the first team for most of the last week of practice starting with the Family Day practice last Saturday at Soldier Field.

Omiyale will not be blocking for running back Matt Forte, though. The team announced that Kevin Jones will start at running back. Forte has not been ruled out, but it's expected that he will not play if he's not starting. The coaching staff wouldn't run Forte behind the backup line.

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--Talk about football weather.

It's been alternating between drizzle and light rain this afternoon with a little bit of wind. Welcome to August.

The Bears will put on pads this evening for the first time, and it should be a good practice to watch. If you're planning on attending, you better show up early. There are only so many seats in the stadium and the rest are left to jockey for position around the outside of the track. Danieal Manning is expected to be in action so he'll get his first time at free safety this year. Josh Beekman started with the first team on Friday and our guess--just a guess--is that Frank Omiyale may see time with the ones at left guard this evening. Stay tuned.

*** Over at the National Football Post, Matt Bowen takes a look at tight end Greg Olsen and one way the Bears can deploy him more this season.

"When the Bears align Olson as a wide receiver, a safety will be put over him -- usually in off-coverage -- on Olson's outside shoulder, as his help will be toward the middle of the field. What this does for the Bears is allow Olson to run a multiple of inside breaking routes and use his big body to shield the defender from the football. We saw some of this last season in offensive coordinator Ron Turner's weekly game plans, but with Cutler now at quarterback, the ball will come out faster and it will be on target. Expect Olson to be Cutler's No.1 option in 2009."

*** Minnesota quarterback Tarvaris Jackson suffered a sprained MCL in practice this morning. No word how serious is is right now. Maybe the Bears can use an open roster spot to sign Brett Favre as a backup before the Vikings re-enter the picture for him. OK. We were just kidding.

I've spent four weeks here analyzing some of the things I'll be looking when when the whistle blows at 3 p.m. Friday and the Bears get rolling with their first practice of the season. Now it's time to turn over some space to the trained eye of Tom Thayer, who lists his occupation on his IRS paperwork every April as a "football describer.''

Thayer, the color analyst for WBBM-780 AM, will be at training camp and will offer daily updates for the Bears' flagship station. Here is what Thayer offered:

"There are three things I will be looking at and one of them is the free agents, the newcomers, [Jay] Cutler, Pisa [Tinoisamoa], [Orlando] Pace, big Frank [Omiyale], [Kevin] Shaffer, [Josh] Bullocks, these guys that came in. I want to start looking at those guys and see if they really are what they are, if they're going to fit in, what they're going to do to the team and how they're changing it. Then, I have a key selection of veterans who have been here already who are on the roster who I really want to pay attention to to see if they re-emerge, if they're playing like they did last year, if they're not involved in the betterment of the football team the way they should be due to their position on the roster and with the team and all that. My guys here are [Nathan] Vasher, [Brian] Urlacher, Tommie [Harris], Kevin Jones, Wale [Ogunleye], Nick Roach.

"And then [Johnny] Knox, [Juaquin] Iglesias and D.J. Moore are some rookies I want to watch. I think Moore may have a place. He is one of the three guys of the rooks I am looking at who may need to come in and just provide interest. Just to see if they can help in any way. There is a specific group and positioning of players that I am interested in looking at first. Then I think if you are looking at a position specifically, I still have concerns about the safety position. I like Kevin Payne but there is a battle for all other interior defensive back positions. Payne is only going to be pushed by himself. He is a guy who has to stay healthy. You can go out there and Kevin Payne can show flashes of brilliance and then he can pop his head in there and come out, get dinged, and you're back to square one. My only issue with Kevin Payne is durability.''

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