As the Bears continue their preparation for the Bills on Saturday at Soldier Field, there is still plenty of uncertainty about Chicago’s offensive line heading into the Week 16 matchup.
After Teven Jenkins was limited in Tuesday’s walk through practice with a neck injury, he was unable to participate on Wednesday. Cody Whitehair has also missed two-straight practices with his knee injury, while tackles Larry Borom and Riley Reiff were a full go on Wednesday.
“With the way that our line has kind of been banged up, I think the guys have been playing a lot of different positions,” offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said on Wednesday. “Larry (Borom) has been inside and outside, (Alex) Leatherwood’s been inside and outside. Other than Braxton (Jones) and Teven and Sam (Mustipher), everyone’s really been playing everything. Even Riley’s been practicing inside for us too. We’ve kind of been getting guys in a lot of different areas as far as practice goes.”
Borom has missed the last two games due to injury and last played against the Jets, and Leatherwood has only played 27 total offensive snaps this season.
Whoever ends up being a part of the Bears’ starting five rotation, that group will go against a well-coached defensive unit. Bills coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier have been with the Bills since 2017. The complete opposite of the first-year tandem in coach Matt Eberflus and Getsy.
The defense itself, whether the Bills are in their base 4-3 or in nickel, has primarily players who have years of NFL experience. The defensive line has a combined 22 years of NFL experience in DaQuan Jones (9), Shaq Lawson (7), Ed Oliver (4) and Greg Rousseau (2). The one exception is rookie first-round draft pick Kaiir Elam, who has been splitting reps with third-year player Dane Jackson at the second cornerback spot.
“They’re such a well-rounded defense,” Getsy said. “They’ve been in Sean and Leslie’s scheme now for a while. You can tell, again, it is much like last week — a group of veterans and any time the front can affect the game the way that their front does, that makes life easier on the back end. That’s why they’re able to be so opportunistic and make all those plays. The challenge is really that they’re really good at their scheme and so we have to be even better with our execution.”
Even though the Bills are missing their team sack leader in Von Miller, the team still has 12 players on the defense that have registered a sack (37 total on the season). The unit also has 22 total turnovers (tied for fourth-most in the NFL) – with 10th-year safety Jordan Poyer leading the way with his four interceptions.
For Justin Fields, who faced one of the best defenses in the Eagles last Sunday, communication with his offensive line will be crucial. This is especially important with there being a high potential of offensive lineman playing in different spots on Saturday.
“I don’t know if the communication is but you don’t want to get on different levels,” Getsy said. “You want to make sure that you’re communicating in the sense of like if you see something or you see an alignment or you see a potential pressure, you have the communication with each other to alert each other something is about to happen. That’s where the communication can help you prepare for it but it usually comes down to fundamentals and technique and we were not good in that area last week, for sure.”
Along with cleaning up communication and preparing for frigid temperatures on a short week, the Bears just need to figure out who is playing on the offensive line. The obstacles continue to pile up as the Bears get closer towards the end of the 2022 regular season.