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Bears offensive line beginning to gel

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Together on the practice field for the second straight week, the Bears' starting offensive line is beginning to develop some cohesiveness.

The No. 1 unit had been missing veteran right guard Nate Davis, who was not present for the voluntary offseason program before participating in the final three OTA practices last week. On Tuesday, Davis was back on the field for the start of mandatory minicamp, lining up with left tackle Braxton Jones, left guard Teven Jenkins, center Cody Whitehair and rookie right tackle Darnell Wright.

"It's been good," said coach Matt Eberflus. "I just talked to 'C-Mo' (offensive line coach Chris Morgan) earlier today about it and the continuity that's really starting to gel, having guys next to each other; Braxton next to the guard and also Nate next to the other young [lineman]. So, they've got some youth next to some experience there. We like it, and it's starting to gel."

Last season the Bears utilized 10 different starting offensive line combinations, something they are determined to avoid this year.

"Hopefully it won't be the moving chairs like we had last year, which is always difficult," Eberflus said. "You'd like to have some continuity in there, and hopefully we can get that done."

Davis told reporters that getting his mind and body right while working out on his own in April and May is part of his normal routine.

"At the same time, I was in communication with the coaches, even with the players, staying in it with the [play]book," he said. "I was also able to take care of off-the-field stuff, too. I'm here now. That's what really matters."

Davis declined to put a timetable on how long it typically takes an offensive line to gel, but he feels the Bears are "in a really good spot."

"The communication on the field, at least between the O-line and even the quarterbacks and wide receivers, has been really good," Davis said. "Even off the field, the types of conversations we're having, too, about different types of schemes and what to look for, we're in a good spot."

Davis is eager to help Wright, who was selected by the Bears with the 10th pick in the first round of the draft, transition into the NFL.

"Just being able to communicate with him, just being able to talk things through: 'What did you see? What's a little different?'" Davis said. "Speed's a little different from college to the NFL, so just letting him know there's going to be a little bit of a curve, but it's all going to fall in place and you're going to look back and be like, 'Wow, I really took some good steps.'"

Davis described the 6-6, 335-pound Wright as "big, strong, smart."

"He's got all the tools you need as a right tackle," Davis said. "I'm excited for him. I'm excited to play next to him."

The only Bears lineman returning at the same position is Jones, who started all 17 games at left tackle last season as a rookie. Davis and Wright were acquired this offseason, while Whitehair and Jenkins have moved to new spots after playing left guard and right guard, respectively.

"I think the transition is not going to be too bad," Davis said. "They've definitely brought in the right people, including myself. And we're all studying, doing all the right things off the field to make sure that it also carries over to on-the-field things, too."

Whitehair has been splitting first-team practice reps with veteran Lucas Patrick at center, but Eberflus revealed that Whitehair remains atop the depth chart.

"Cody's there as the starter right now and Lucas is working in there because of experience," Eberflus said. "He's done that. Really the big thing with those guys is the accuracy of the snaps, and they've done a great job with that. It's not just in the team periods, it's also in individual. Even when they're gassed and tired during individual, we want them to have accurate snaps, because if they can do it then, they can do it during the games."

After signing with the Bears last year following five seasons with the Packers, Patrick missed the final 10 games in 2022 due to a toe injury. He has since worked hard to put himself back in position to provide depth and competition.

"Lucas has done an outstanding job," Eberflus said. "He's really changed his body. He's really been working that physical side of it so he can stay in there and stay healthy. He's going to continue to do that, so we're happy with where he is in terms of competing inside.

"We know how the season goes. At all positions we're going to need everybody. At some point, somebody is going to step in there and be a starter and we're fortunate to have Lucas, who has started in that position."

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