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Ifedi embraces new role at right tackle

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Injuries have forced the Bears to try a number of different looks on the offensive line this season.

Despite a losing effort against the Packers, the offensive line had its most successful game since James Daniels was lost for the season due to a pectoral injury. The lineup only included one player, left tackle Charles Leno Jr., playing in the position at which he started the season.

For Germain Ifedi, however, the move required him to move into familiar ground. Ifedi signed with the Bears during the offseason to fill the role of right guard after starting the past three seasons at right tackle for the Seattle Seahawks.

Ifedi felt confident in his first go-around as the Bears' right tackle.

"Unfortunately, the results of the game were rough on us," said Ifedi, "but that's the one positive I took away: I felt good out there. I didn't feel rushed. I didn't feel overwhelmed in any way. I felt like I performed pretty well. It's something to build off of."

Ifedi felt that the unit put the bye week to good use to learn how to play together.

"I was really impressed with how we came out and how we attacked and how we attacked the week of work," said Ifedi. "Being able to get that extra day coming off the bye was real critical for us, too. I'm excited about it, and we're just gonna keep working and keep doing what's best to keep building the offense and keep growing."

The unit saw immediate results. On their second play from scrimmage, running back David Montgomery turned an inside run into a 57-yard gain.

"It's exciting, but it's not surprising," said Ifedi. "We expect that to happen, because when we get a guy like David on that second and third level and he hasn't been touched, he hasn't had to break a tackle, he has the ability every play. It's us upfront and tight ends and everybody who has communicated getting on the same page, and things like that happen."

The Bears rushed for 122 yards against the Packers, their highest total since Week 3. In contrast to previous weeks—when defensive players would often meet Montgomery or Cordarrelle Patterson at or behind the line of scrimmage—the Bears' running backs had space to move for most of the night.

"I think we just executed," said Ifedi. "Execution and there weren't too many errors. We still want to communicate better. We still want to finish better. We know it's in there. It's not surprising. When we're all doing our jobs, and we're all communicating, you give 3-2, 8-4, whoever has the ball, give 'em space, you're going to get four or five yards."

The line struggled at times in pass blocking, which proved problematic when the Bears fell into a multiple touchdown deficit. However, the improvement in run-blocking proved to be a glimmer of hope after a tumultuous six-week period.

"We didn't have a ton of opportunities because of the way the game was going," said Ifedi. "When they did trust us and they did lean on us to make it work, I thought this was one of our better games just executing the play that's called."

Ifedi has proven capable of playing at either guard or tackle, but he relished the experience of playing at the position at which he was drafted.

"I really love the challenge that comes with playing offensive tackle," said Ifedi. "When I'm right, when I'm on my game, I think that I can be one of the better guys out there."

While being a veteran presence, Ifedi has little experience for the situation the Bears are now in facing down the possibility of a losing season. Ifedi has never played for a team with a losing record in college or the NFL.

"You keep rolling," said Ifedi, "and you keep working and try to figure out what I can do to keep helping the team and keep getting better, which will help our offense keep getting better. You can't panic. You know at some point it will turn around, and it'll shine on us again. The sun will shine on us again."

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