Bears O-Line Watch: Breaking down Day 3 of training camp

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The Chicago Bears have kicked off training camp, and there are plenty of storylines we’re monitoring this summer. One of the biggest is the offensive line — specifically, what will the starting combination look like? And how quickly are they going to figure that out?

Head coach Matt Eberflus reiterated that all starting combinations are open heading into training camp. Although it certainly appears that things are becoming clearer following the additions of veterans Riley Reiff and Michael Schofield.

“We have to keep an open mind into the best combination, the best five, and the best three guys after that,” Eberflus said. “So it’s important that we keep an open mind.”

There were some interesting developments during Friday’s practice, which at one time featured four rookies starting during team drills.

Here’s a look at how the offensive line shook out during the second practice of training camp on Thursday, focusing on left tackle, right guard, right tackle and center.

Left tackle

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There will be a time when veteran Riley Reiff takes over as the starting left tackle permanently. But that hasn’t happened yet as Reiff continues to get up to speed. That gives fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones plenty of opportunities at left tackle, and he was once again working with the first-team during Friday’s practice. Jones was described as having “a sturdiness to him that is attention-grabbing at times” by Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. For now, Jones will continue to get starting reps that could help him develop into a starter down the road. But for now, it’s a waiting game for Reiff to eventually step in.

Left guard

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no question that Cody Whitehair will be the starting left guard this season. But it’s becoming clearer that his backup appears to be rookie Zachary Thomas, who stepped in for Whitehair when he was absent during a minicamp practice. Whitehair had a veteran rest day during Friday’s training camp practice, which saw Thomas stepping in for him with the first-team offense. Thomas did get beat by defensive tackle Justin Jones for a sack, but that’s supposed to happen when a rookie goes against a veteran. Whitehair is expected to be back at left guard for Saturday’s practice.

Center

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The Bears will be without starting center Lucas Patrick for the foreseeable future. Eberflus confirmed that Patrick suffered a right hand injury that will require him to miss time. According to Jason Lieser of the Sun-Times, Patrick broke his right thumb. But the expectation is Patrick will be back before the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. With Patrick sidelined, it was rookie Doug Kramer taking reps with the first-team at center. But Patrick’s injury also had Sam Mustipher getting some reps at center. Mustipher started all 17 games at center for the Bears last season, and he already has a rapport with Justin Fields. We’ll see how the center reps continue to shake out in Patrick’s absence.

Right guard

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Mustipher has been the starting right guard dating back to the spring, and it’s carried over into training camp. But following Patrick’s injury, he started getting some reps at center. That opened the door for rookie Ja’Tyre Carter, who worked at right guard with the starting offensive line. Carter appears to be locked in at the right guard position, where he’ll be looking to make a push for the starting job. Michael Schofield is still in the ramp-up period, and he’s been working with the second-team at right guard. Once Schofield gets up to speed, he’ll be a contender for that starting right guard job.

Right tackle

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Larry Borom is the clear favorite to win the starting right tackle job, as he’s been in that position since the spring. That hasn’t changed, and at one point he was the only veteran on the offensive line as all four rookie draft picks worked with the first-team at times. But the big development from camp is Teven Jenkins, who’s been absent from practice for the last two days. Eberflus said that Jenkins is “working through something with trainers,” an indication that he might have an injury. But Eberflus wouldn’t confirm whether he was injured. Still, Jenkins is listed as day-to-day, and it’s hard not to be concerned given his injury history. Last summer, Jenkins battled a back injury that held him out of training camp. It required surgery, and he missed most of his rookie season.

Starters on Day 3

Here’s a look at who lined up with the starters during team drills:

  • LT: Braxton Jones*

  • LG: Zachary Thomas*

  • C: Doug Kramer*

  • RG: Sam Mustipher/Ja’Tyre Carter*

  • RT: Larry Borom

*rookie

Projected Starters for 2022 season

Here’s our projected starting offensive line for Week 1:

  • LT: Riley Reiff

  • LG: Cody Whitehair

  • C: Lucas Patrick

  • RG: Michael Schofield

  • RT: Larry Borom

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire