Could Sam Mustipher Move to Guard?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune gives us four takeaways from the Bears practice Thursday. He discusses potential changes to the offensive line.

If [Lucas] Patrick slides to center, that would leave the Bears with maybe three options at left guard:

  • Michael Schofield has 81 career starts, by far the most experience of any interior lineman on the Bears with the exception of [Cody] Whitehair. Schofield struggled in training camp and preseason and was released in the roster trim to 53. The Bears re-signed him in Week 2 when Alex Leathewood was placed on the non-football illness list.
  • Leatherwood last week began a 21-day window for the team to evaluate him in practice after he was sidelined four weeks with mononucleosis. The Bears can put him in action once he’s moved to the 53-man roster. Leatherwood played exclusively on the right side at tackle and guard as a rookie last season with the Las Vegas Raiders. It’s fair to assume the Bears will want to look at him at some point this season, but he has had fewer than 10 practices with the team. “We like where he is,” [Matt] Eberflus said. “Mentally in the meetings and giving feedback to C-Mo (offensive line coach Chris Morgan) and our offensive line coaches. It’s been great. And he’s in a good spot. He’s working himself back in there, and we’ll see where it goes physically. But we’re certainly excited to have a talent like that and really start to evaluate where he is.”
  • Rookie seventh-round pick Ja’Tyre Carter is on the active roster, so in theory he’s a potential candidate. It’s unlikely coaches would want to have rookies alongside each other on the left side of the line. A more likely scenario would be the Bears waiving Carter to create a space on the 53-man roster for Leatherwood and then re-signing the rookie to the practice squad.

I thought it was notable that Biggs didn’t mention the possibility of moving Sam Mustipher from center to guard. Before Patrick’s injury, this was the lineup that they were using in training camp with Mustipher at right guard, ahead of Schofield and Carter on the depth chart.

The Bears obviously saw the undersized Mustipher as the primary backup at guard and center heading into the season. I’m not sure why that would change based upon what we’ve seen from Schofield and Carter, both of whom have played poorly during the chances that they’ve gotten to play. Although Mustipher hadn’t been great at center, its entirely possible that he’d do better not having to worry about snaping the ball.

Seeing as they signed Patrick as a center, I have to believe that they would rather be playing him there. It is indeed going to be interesting to see what they do at guard when that happens. Of course, the best thing will be for Whitehair to get back as soon as possible.

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