Rookie James Brown has worked his way onto Bears’ offensive line
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org
Bears offensive Guard, #78 James Brown runs onto the field during open practice at Bear Family Fest, Soldier Field, August 3, 2012.. | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times
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When Bears rookie offensive lineman James Brown entered training camp as a highly regarded undrafted free agent, there weren’t enough practice snaps available to give him work at guard, his projected NFL position.
There are now.
Whether it’s by attrition or default or a credit to his own progress, Brown is in line to start at left guard after the rookie from Troy played most of the second half Sunday against the Vikings in place of Edwin Williams.
Brown was called for holding on his ninth snap but otherwise finished the game without incident.
‘‘For the most part, I felt I did pretty good,’’ said the 6-4, 306-pound Brown, who was promoted to the 53-man roster from the practice squad three weeks ago. ‘‘I did feel like I was getting used to it [as the game went along]. But when you lose, everything feels [bad]. So you have to go back to work and get better on everything. There’s definitely room for improvement.’’
Brown would be the latest attempt to solidify the position. The Bears have changed starters at left guard six times in the last two seasons.
‘‘You make changes when you feel like you need them,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. ‘‘If you feel like you have a good option, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You want to keep the same starting group together in all three phases, but it never happens that way.
‘‘I thought James Brown went in and did some good things. So as long as you’re looking at guys that might give you a little boost, I think that’s a good thing.’’
Smith said the team is still evaluating injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler (neck), defensive end Shea McClellin (knee), safety Craig Steltz (knee) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (knee).
Kicker Robbie Gould didn’t seem too concerned about a calf injury that prevented him from kicking off against the Vikings. But Smith indicated the Bears might have to go outside Halas Hall to find a replacement if Gould’s injury doesn’t heal sufficiently.
‘‘We’re going to keep all our options open,’’ Smith said.
Running back Michael Bush ‘‘took a shot’’ against the Vikings and was held out after gaining six yards on his only carry. Armando Allen had one carry for three yards as the backup to Matt Forte.
‘‘We were in a situation where we just didn’t feel like we had to play [Bush],’’ Smith said. ‘‘Nothing major, but he did feel it.’’
The Packers (9-4) have won seven of their last eight games. The Bears (8-5) have lost four of their last five. Further complicating matters is the fact that while the Bears are losing players, the Packers are gaining them.
Cornerback Charles Woodson (broken collarbone), guard T.J. Lang (ankle) and linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) could return this week. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring) is less likely to play.