By John Boyle
Since Alex Gibbs was hired as the offensive line coach, the O-linemen have refused to talk to the media (the exception being Russell Okung on the day he signed), and that practice continued after Gibbs’ resignation.
After Thursday’s practice, however, Pete Carroll brought a few linemen out to talk to the media. Center Chris Spencer and right tackle Sean Locklear both cooperated, but Ben Hamilton stood in the background and refused to answer questions.
As all of this was going on, guard Chester Pitts looked on from the entrance to the weight room, unhappy to see his teammates talking.
“Hmm. Hmm. Hmm,” he said, shaking his head disapprovingly.
Below is what Spencer and Locklear had to say:
(On the offense as a whole and where they are now) “We’re starting to come together. With Max (Unger) being hurt and bringing in Stacy (Andrews), now we’re starting to get some camaraderie together. As a unit, you kind of have to have that camaraderie to get things going. I think this week of practice went really good. The bye week practice was good for us. So I think we’re kind of starting to turn the page on being together and on the same page and things.”
(On how the bye week helped) “It helps a lot because you’re not game-planning, you’re working on your techniques and small nuances of things so I think that really helps when you don’t have to focus on the game plan and you can work on the small things.”
(On if he feels that the offensive line is stabilized) “Yeah, I think so. Russell (Okung) is back and Sean (Locklear) is healthy and Stacy (Andrews) is good, Ben (Hamilton) is doing good. So I think everything is starting to get solid and we’re starting to come together as a whole unit now and not just in and out.”
(On Ben Hamilton’s veteran presence) “He’s been playing for a long time so that’s a great thing.”
(On having offensive line coach Alex Gibbs retire just before the season started) “It’s a guy you work with the whole offseason so it’s tough for us but we had to pull together and keep working at it. Art (Valero) is doing a great job for us and all we do is rally around him and keep things going.”
(On the Bears front seven) “I mean, it’s the Bears. You always got to bring your hard hat and your lunch pail and let’s go to work. With those guys, they’re a smart defense, they know what they’re doing and they’re going to be technically sound. It’s not one of those places where these guys don’t know what they’re doing. They know exactly what they’re doing. You know where they’re going to line up at and all you got to do now is just come off the ball and execute the game plan.”
(On what Marshawn Lynch brings to the run game) “It’s exciting, you know. You got a good back like Marshawn, a big back who will hit the holes. To me, he runs like he’s angry so as an offensive lineman, you love that. So we’re pretty excited about it.”
(On if Lynch serves as motivation to him and the other linemen) “As a lineman, as a guy who is passionate about his job, I love my job and no matter who is back there (at running back), we’re going to play hard no matter what.”
(On being back at right tackle) “I’m just glad to be back over there, it’s more natural. I think that’s where my natural position is and I feel comfortable over there, so I feel great.”
(On looking healthy) “Yeah, I got nicked up a little bit here the last two weeks but the bye week helped. I got better, got my feet under me. We’re getting all our guys back, the starting five.”
(On this being a good time for a bye week) “It was. It sucks because it’s so early and now we’ve got 12 straight, but it’s been like that since I’ve been here. We always have it early, so it’s just part of it.”
(On changing personnel on the offensive line) “I mean, it’s different but that’s the business. We’ve been through that the past couple of years. But I think the guys we have, with the amount of experience they have, it’s natural for them. Even with Stacy (Andrews) coming in, he’s been playing seven years so he’s got some experience under his belt, he’s learning the system and the bye week helped him, the little things he got better at – we all got better.”
(On Andrews being so large) “Yeah, he is huge. It’s kind of unnatural for the guard to be bigger than the tackle but that’s the way it is.”
(On facing Julius Peppers) “He’s a good player, bottom line. He’s a Pro-Bowler, he makes plays. He can rush the passer, stop the run, bat balls down, intercept the ball, he does it all. He’s a complete player.”
(On if Marshawn Lynch in the lineup changes anything for the line) “Well, no not us. It’s a scheme. We block the way we block. We don’t block any harder, no less, for whoever is back there. It’s upon them to put the ball where it’s supposed to be.”
(On Russell Okung) “Russell, he’s young, you know. He’s athletic, he can play. He’s still learning; he’s just a rookie. He’s only been out practicing for a few weeks, maybe a month or so. So everything’s still new to him. He’s learning and he’s progressing well. He got his feet under him against the Rams and the more games he plays, the more practice he plays, the better he gets. So I see him getting better.”
(On the difference in the scheme from last year to this year) “It’s basically the same offense; it’s just how it’s taught. It’s more specific, more detailed this year.”
(On if he thinks it fits him better now) “I think so. Everything has an objective and everything correlates with everything else we do, as far as pass and run.”