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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

Lovie Smith was exasperated when asked if there will be changes on the offensive line, particularly at left guard where it is believed Josh Beekman took reps with the first team on Wednesday.

"We don't want to give the opponent an advantage. We want them to wonder what we're going to do, like you are right now,'' Smith said. "That's the way it's been throughout. So it's not like there's something new that I'm coming up with right now.

"OK, I'm not going to talk about anything personnel-wise. To me that's pretty clear. If that's all you want to talk about there's nothing else to talk about."

General manager Jerry Angelo announced that he expected some potential changes in personnel on the team's Web site this morning.

"I don't want to go too far into this, but certainly there are things that need to be corrected and things that we need to do better,'' Angelo said. "Do we need to look at some personnel? Yeah, we do. There's some of that going on as you'll see Sunday. But we can't overreact. I feel very confident that Lovie [Smith] and his staff see that and will get the wrongs righted. We're going to focus on what we can control, and that's Sunday's game against Cleveland."

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.

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.

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.--Marcus Harrison continues to make progress on the side while on the non-football injury list and the defensive tackle is hopeful he'll be cleared for a return by Saturday when the Bears will practice at Soldier Field during Family Day.

Harrison has missed four practices and one mini-practice thus far with Anthony Adams and Dusty Dvoracek dividing the reps at nose tackle in his absence. Harrison reported to camp at 322, 10 pounds above the weight he said he played at last season. It's a combination of weight and body fat percentage that the team wants him to drop, especially after he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in May.

Some notes from the afternoon session:

The Bears are entering the most difficult days of training camp where their bodies are starting to feel fatigued after five weeks off. The session Monday afternoon probably reflected that somewhat, and quarterback Jay Cutler certainly was not as accurate as he has been, although he did lead the first offense into position for a 53-yard Robbie Gould field goal in the two-minute drills. Some quick notes from the workout:

Lance Briggs, Hunter Hillenmeyer and Matt Toeania all returned to work.

Jamar Williams did a nice job taking on fullback Jason Davis in inside run drills.

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.

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--The Bears made their second roster move of the day when they announced this morning that guard Dennis Conley has been released.


We reached out to KC Joyner to go over some of the run blocking metrics he completed after film review of the Bears. The numbers showed that right guard Roberto Garza was not only the Bears' most efficient run blocker last season, he was one of the best guards in the game, ranking ahead of the three Pro Bowlers Joyner has final numbers for--Chris Snee, Leonard Davis and Alan Faneca.

"If you ask me about the 22 teams I've run the numbers on so far, he is probably the second most surprising,'' said Joyner, who will publish the results and more in Scientific Football 2009. "[New York Jets center] Nick Mangold is probably the most surprising. I knew Mangold was good but he is head and shoulders above any other center and will probably be the highest ranked POA lineman [94.3 percent] when I am done in another two weeks.

"The last time I did this, in 2005, Garza was in the low 80's and for him to be [at 88.3] is a little surprising in that he's ahead of these Pro Bowl guards. I love doing the numbers, watching the tape and then running the numbers. In most cases the numbers agree with what you say in scouting, `This player is this and that.' Usually, the metrics follow what you're seeing in scouting. Whenever the two disagree, I lean on the metrics more than scouting. You can see a player have one bad play and in the back of your mind, `He stinks.' The metrics don't care. The one bad play will be registered and then `Let's see the other 150 he had.'''

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