Bears

Bears training camp notes: Where do Larry Borom, Braxton Jones fit into O-line plans?

LAKE FOREST — All spring and summer, the Bears offensive line has looked like a game of musical chairs. They have tried countless combinations of linemen with the first-team offense, and they likely will continue to do so for several weeks.

The Bears drafted four rookie linemen and added three veterans in free agency. The most recent additions were veteran tackle Riley Reiff and veteran lineman Michael Schofield, who can play guard or tackle.

The influx of linemen has left everyone jockeying for position.

Second-year tackle Larry Borom started eight games last season as a rookie. The 2021 fifth-round draft pick played at both right and left tackle at various times, although he spent more time on the right side.

In the spring, he split his time evenly between right and left tackle. NFL linemen tend to downplay the difficulties of switching positions. Borom told Shaw Local that he is willing to play wherever the team needs him, but switching from right to left, or vice versa, definitely takes some mental adjustments.

“If you’re right-handed and you try to write something, then you try to go left-handed, it’s different,” Borom said. “You’ve got to flip everything. Some people, it’s not that hard to pick up. Others, it is.”

During practice Tuesday, Borom split time with Reiff at right tackle, while rookie fifth-round pick Braxton Jones played left tackle. The Bears signed Reiff to a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $10 million. That hefty contract likely indicates Reiff will be in the starting lineup when healthy.

Reiff can play either side but probably will be the left tackle unless Jones blows away everyone’s expectations. If Reiff is on the left side, Borom could be the favorite to start at right tackle.

It’s a good sign that Jones, who played college ball at FCS Southern Utah, is seeing any reps with the first-team offense. Borom said Jones has the perfect combination of length and athleticism for the tackle position.

“Every day I continue to learn and compete, and that’s the biggest thing,” Jones said. “Just because I’m running with the [first team] doesn’t mean anything changes.”

There’s a difference – particularly with a rookie from an FCS school – between testing a guy out at left tackle in training camp and starting him there Week 1. If Jones were to start at left tackle during the season opener Sept. 11 against San Francisco, that would be a monumental upset.

Head coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy aren’t worried about when the five best linemen will emerge. They’ve been around the NFL game long enough to know that the answer will materialize in due time.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do over these next two weeks, making sure that we figure out what we’re good at and who we are and what kind of mindset, mentality that we want to play with,” Getsy said.

The Bears’ new run-blocking scheme comes with a significant shift in footwork. The linemen are moving laterally more often in the wide-zone scheme. That’s why there has been such an emphasis on the linemen shedding weight over the offseason.

Borom spent most of the offseason working out at the team facility and at SPEAR Training Center in Vernon Hills. He upped his conditioning workouts to reach his weight goals.

“Last year’s scheme, as soon as the edge was set, that was it,” Borom said. “This one, you’ve got to be able to run. You’ve got to be able to run, and you’ve got to have good footwork. Them wanting us to be lighter and leaner, that’s what it’s for.

Tuesday attendance: Tackle Teven Jenkins remains out. Linebacker Roquan Smith, who is awaiting a new contract, also has not been practicing. Defensive tackle Angelo Blackson has been present but not participating in practice for several days.

The NFL Network reported Monday that the Bears are holding trade discussions centered on Jenkins. Eberflus has said only that Jenkins is working out an undisclosed issue with the trainers.

Responding to a fan tweet Tuesday, Jenkins wrote “don’t believe everything you read” on Twitter.

Borom, who is close with Jenkins, said that Jenkins is managing his situation “the best way he can.”

“I don’t really have too many comments on his situation, other than he’s my boy, he’s my dawg,” Borom said. “He’s trying to do the best he can.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.