Chris Spencer: 5 Reasons He Should Be the Chicago Bears Starting Center
However, plans have changed and former right guard Roberto Garza is taking first team reps at center during practice and the opening preseason games.
This is a mistake, as Spencer should be the team's starting center, which will improve not only the position, but also the entire offensive line.
Chris Spencer Has More Experience at Center
While Garza is in his 7th year as a Chicago Bear, none of those years or even games were at the center position.
Garza was a center for the 2001 season finale for the Atlanta Falcons, but has started most of his games at right guard for the Bears.
By signing Spencer to a two-year, $6 million deal (Garza is making $2.18 million this year), it does not make sense for him to be an expensive backup.
Roberto Garza Is More Natural at Right Guard
Part of the Chicago Bears' offensive line problems last year were due to having not-so-good linemen coupled with constant changes.
While Kreutz is not the starting center anymore, it does not mean Garza has to be the center just because he has been a Bear for seven years. Garza has been the starting right guard in 80 games for Chicago.
If Garza were the starting right guard, it would provide some continuity for an offensive line that is adjusting with a rookie right tackle (Gabe Carimi), a new left tackle in J'Marcus Webb (he played right tackle in 2010), and a sub par right guard in Lance Louis.
Lance Louis Will Not Cut It at Right Guard
Louis was a seventh round draft pick in 2009 and has looked the part of a below average player.
He was a big part in contributing to a horrible o-line last year, allowing sacks to quarterback Jay Cutler and tackles for a loss on running plays.
He does not give full effort during game situations and can be overpowered regularly by strong defensive tackles.
Louis has not proven to be a consistent player. Having Spencer at center not only helps at that position, but it allows Garza to resume his starting duties at right guard, thus solidifying the line.
Blocking Tight Ends Will Help Spencer During Learning Curve
Part of the argument for Spencer to be working with the second team offense is he is learning offensive coordinator Mike Martz's scheme. Martz wants to break Spencer in, thus having Garza, who is more experienced, protect Cutler until Spencer catches up on the playbook.
However, the Bears also have physical blocking tight ends, which is another key component in Martz's offensive system. Desmond Clark, Kellen Davis and newly signed Matt Spaeth will probably be in many double tight end sets with one blocking on the line and the other filling in at the full back position.
These superior blocking tight ends add much needed protection for Cutler, who has been sacked way too many times the last two seasons.
Chris Spencer is a solid center who has started five seasons for the Seattle Seahawks.
He has more professional experience at the position than Roberto Garza, who would be better utilized at right guard, his natural position.This would put an inconsistent and unproven Lance Louis as a backup right guard, thus improving the line's quality.
Spencer will indeed have a learning curve, but with physical tight ends assisting with blocking duties, he will pick up the playbook as he plays.
Bob Bajek is a freelance reporter and can be followed on Twitter.