Spencer fit: Tough enough after all

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Spencer fit: Tough enough after all

Chris Spencer right now is the best free-agent signing by the Bears last offseason, and its almost a kind of accident, on a couple of counts. And basically he and Roberto Garza are backwards. But its working. Well.

Spencer was allowed to walk by the Seattle Seahawks after six seasons, having started at center and as a guard when needed. The Bears were looking for offensive line help last offseason but didnt move on Spencer until Olin Kreutz passed on a return contract.

Spencer spent most of training camp at his natural center position, but as the backup because he was behind coming into camp late. Garza was a quick study, developed a quicker rapport with Jay Cutler, and Spencer wound up at guard.

Center is usually the finesse position on the offensive line, the one responsible for calls and typically with being quick enough to help where a protection calls for him to be. Guard is a mauler position; the clich is that tackles make Pro Bowls on pass blocking, guards make it on run-blocking very big people.

Spencer had a finesse (translation: soft) knock on him coming in, not what makes for prototypical guards. He had to first win over a dubious O-line coach.

We teased him about it, Mike Tice said. He said, Whatd you hear about me? I said I heard you were a little finessey.

Its kind of an insult but not really. It means youre a good athlete that doesnt mix it up, but he mixes it up. He gets after it. Hes a good cut blocker and hes a finisher.

He surprised me. I totally thought he was a different style player than I got. Hes been really good with the group, has fit in, and with the fractured hand injury, hes tougher than I thought he was. Thats a tribute to him.

So the Bears have Garza the long-time guard, an acknowledged tough guy, at center. And Spencer the long-time center and need-to-prove tough guy, at guard.

A lot of times the center is a finesse position, Tice said. Roberto is lucky to have some finesse, some power, and still athletic enough to get out in space and pull for us.

Kevin White already impressing Bears QB Mike Glennon in OTA sessions

Kevin White already impressing Bears QB Mike Glennon in OTA sessions

At the point where Kevin White’s 2016 season ended with a broken leg just four games into his de facto “rookie season,” the wide receiver was leading the Bears in receptions. Informal indications are that White already is making an impression in that direction.

White was in attendance at Tuesday’s OTA but it was Monday when he gave new Bears quarterback Mike Glennon a glimpse of the possibilities the Bears saw when they made White the No. 7 pick of the 2015 draft.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Kevin on the field and off the field,” Glennon said on Tuesday. “He works his butt off. And he made some really good plays [Monday] that got me excited and the rest of the team. He’s really eager to learn. I know he’s eager to get back out on that field. Him along with a lot of other receivers, I think, have a chip on their shoulder to prove that it’s a good receiving corps.”

The Bears have never pushed White to accelerate any surgery or planned rehab program and they clearly are not doing it now. White’s 2015 season never got past a stress fracture suffered in pre-camp work, and the organization opted for a conservative approach rather than surgery until an operation was unavoidable.

At this point of White’s third offseason, the approach remains controlled, less interested in any given OTA day than in a phased return pointed toward training camp and ultimately the 2017 season.

“We’re just trying to make sure we get guys ready for camp, and even more precisely, for game one against Atlanta,” said coach John Fox. “So we’re going to do anything necessary to make that done.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How long will Mike Glennon last as the starting QB?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: How long will Mike Glennon last as the starting QB?

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