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Quick Hits: Bears still assessing offensive line

Bears rookie OL Braxton Jones
Bears rookie OL Braxton Jones

Kicking off their mandatory minicamp with the first of three practices Tuesday, the Bears continued to experiment with their offensive line.

As was the case during OTA workouts last week, the No. 1 unit featured rookie fifth-round pick Braxton Jones at left tackle and 2021 fifth-round choice Larry Borom at right tackle.

During the earlier stages of the offseason, Borom lined up at left tackle and 2021 second-round selection Teven Jenkins worked at right tackle.

The plan all along has been to try both combinations for six practices apiece.

"We're going to finish off the minicamp with this alignment," said coach Matt Eberflus, "and then we'll decide at the end, 'Hey, we like this alignment, that alignment or don't like either one, so let's go with a new one.' We're just assessing guys' talents, assessing their skill level and going forward from there."

Eberflus would like to finalize the starting line as soon as possible to allow the unit to gel and give each player a chance to take reps at the position he's going to play. But the Bears simply don't have enough answers at this point.

"We're evaluating each day and we're going to find the best five for us going into the first game," Eberflus said. "That's a buildup process, and we're just trying to find the combinations right now. We'd like to find them sooner than later, and when we do that we'll start repping it that way and do what's best for the Bears."

Asked if Jenkins or Borom could move to the right guard position, Eberflus said: "All combinations are open, I'll just say that. I'm not going to comment on, 'yes or no,' but I would say that we have an open lens of all combinations are open. We're just trying to find the best five."

Off script: Tuesday's practice included a couple of unscripted periods that enabled players to better simulate game-like conditions.

"We put the ball down and said, 'Hey, let's play,'" Eberflus said. "And that was really good because you don't get a chance to look ahead on the script. The coaches can't tell them where to go, and to me that's real football.

"Our team needs to do that a lot because we're learning new systems on offense and defense, and I thought that was a good operation, and we're going to continue to do that because I think that's really good for us."

Unexcused absence: Veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn, who did not participate in the voluntary portion of the offseason program, remained absent on the first day of mandatory minicamp.

"We hoped he would be here; he's not," Eberflus said. "[General manager] Ryan [Poles] and his staff are going to work through that. I really don't have any other comment other than that about Robert Quinn."

Eberflus revealed that he has spoken to Quinn.

"Yeah, I've talked to him," said the Bears coach. "Wished him happy birthday a few weeks ago and we've talked to him. In terms of being here/not being here, I'm going to leave that up to Ryan."

Familiar face: Former Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli attended Tuesday's practice and is scheduled to address players at a team meeting Wednesday morning. Eberflus worked on the same Cowboys defensive staff as Marinelli for five seasons from 2013-17. Marinelli joined Dallas after spending four years as a Bears defensive assistant under Lovie Smith from 2009-12.

"It's great having him here," Eberflus said. "You know how you get with a great friend and it's been a few years since you've seen him and, man, in two minutes it's like you've been together the whole time. I spent five years with him in Dallas and I cannot say enough good things about Rod Marinelli.

"What he taught me with the player/coach relationship—to be able to show the player that you care through action, and prepare the player to play his best on Sunday. And then you're able to challenge them and push them past the point they can't take themselves, and that's what I learned from Rod.

"And the players, everybody who talks about him just loves him to death. He's just a diamond in the rough, Rod Marinelli."

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