Unheralded guard helps revive Bears running game

Matt Trowbridge

The new guy ran onto the practice field at Halas Hall and began to warm up. By himself. He waited. And remained by himself.

"We do everything as a group," Chicago Bears right guard Edwin Williams said. "We don’t go anywhere without everybody.

"That’s something I had to adjust to my first week. I’m out on the field and nobody is out there. Where is everybody at? Everybody is in the locker room waiting for me. Oh. They all go out together. That’s a good thing."

Williams has been an unexpected good thing for the Bears’ embattled offensive line. An undrafted free agent last year, the former University of Maryland center/guard was signed by his favorite team and started two games for the Washington Redskins as a rookie. But the Redskins cut him Aug. 30. Williams signed with the Bears the next day.

"Being released by the Redskins wasn’t my ideal choice," Williams said. "It wasn’t easy, especially leaving a team I was a fan of since I was a kid. But when that door closed, I didn’t have to wait out in the hall long."

The Bears then cut the 6-foot-3, 317-pound Williams again and re-signed him to their practice squad. The Bears elevated him to their 53-man roster on Sept. 27 for the Green Bay game and then pushed him into the starting lineup last week.

"We’ve been very impressed," offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. "We don’t have backups on this team. We have guys waiting to be starters when the opportunity comes. He took his chance."

Williams started last week in part because Lance Louis was a little banged up. He’ll start again after the Bears tripled their season average with 218 yards rushing against Carolina.

"If it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it," offensive line coach Mike Tice said. "He didn’t make any mental errors, so that was nice. He’s trying to play physical. He’s got a long way to go technique-wise, especially as it pertains to pass protection, but he gets after it pretty good."

Not making mental mistakes is huge on an offensive line in such flux that center Olin Kreutz is expected to be the only Game 1 starter still in the same spot for Game 6 Sunday against Seattle.

"Offensive line play is about playing together," Kreutz said. "But this is the NFL. That’s what happens. Guys go down and guys have got to step up."

That’s why Chicago’s offensive linemen step together wherever they go.

"We feel like brothers out there," Williams said. "It is somewhat tough to mesh. Everyone has their own different blocking abilities and blocking techniques, but chemistry also works off the field as well. When you know it’s somebody you depend on and they depend on you, it feels a lot different than if it was just a co-worker."

Chicago’s newest blocking brother was taken aback to be such a center of attention this week.

"It’s good, but that was just my first start," Williams said. "Olin has over 100 starts. Once it gets to that elite level that will be cool. I’m just trying to focus on start No. 2."

If it’s anything like his first start, he’ll keep starting.

"For a guy to move up the way he has says how he has performed in our eyes," head coach Lovie Smith said. "Every time we’ve moved him up a bit, we’ve liked what he’s done.

"He’s got a future ahead of him."

Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or