Chicago Bears OTAs provide first glance at important position battle

Chicago Bears v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chicago Bears v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

There are not expected to be many position battles for the Chicago Bears this offseason, as most positions are settled.

The Bears' most important position battle this summer is at center. The center was the weak spot of the offensive line last season, and there was an expectation that the Bears would address the position this offseason.

The Bears traded for Buffalo Bills center Ryan Bates in early March, and once free agency started, they added former Los Angeles Rams center Coleman Shelton on a one-year deal. While Shelton started every game at center for the Rams last season, the expectation was that Bates would get the first opportunity at being the starting center.

Bates opened OTAs last week as the center with the first-team offense, but while the media was at practice on Friday, Shelton made the snaps with the first-team offense. Afterward, Matt Eberflus provided an update on the plan at the center.

Looking beyond the position battle at the center for a moment, this is a great strategy regardless. The reason is that there will likely be times during the regular season when Caleb Williams will be taking snaps from both Shelton and Bates, depending on injury. This was a noticeable habit for the Bears when Justin Fields was the starting quarterback, as there was a clear division between Fields and whoever the backup center was. Williams taking snaps from both will only benefit the team during the regular season.

As for the competition, the expectation is that Bates does have a leg-up on Shelton in terms of being the starting center. The Bears have been high on Bates since Ryan Poles took over as the Bears' general manager and attempted to lure the free agent to Chicago on a deal that was ultimately matched by the Bills.