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Omiyale looks like Bears' starting left guard

The Chicago Bears aren't ready to declare a winner in the race to start at left guard even though newcomer Frank Omiyale appears to have the lead on Josh Beekman.
/ Source: PhillyBurbs.com

The Chicago Bears aren't ready to declare a winner in the race to start at left guard even though newcomer Frank Omiyale appears to have the lead on Josh Beekman.Omiyale started the preseason opener and will get the nod Saturday against the New York Giants. Even so, offensive coordinator Ron Turner insisted the competition is ongoing."We're still looking," he said. "We're trying to sort everything out, but still looking."And they're looking long and hard at Omiyale. No surprise there.Most expected him to start after the Bears pounced on him in February, luring the fifth-year pro away from Carolina with a four-year contract. Although Beekman played well while lining up with the first team early in training camp, Omiyale is getting the snaps now."I'm still competing," Omiyale said. "That's how I feel. I'm doing everything they ask."And the Bears are asking for quite a bit from someone who can play tackle and guard but barely got off the sideline in his first three seasons. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Omiyale's role changed last year when he appeared in 10 games and helped the Panthers hold opponents to a franchise record-low 20 sacks. He made his lone NFL start at left tackle in a 34-0 victory over Kansas City in which Carolina ran for 205 yards.The Bears, who were interested in Omiyale coming out of Tennessee Tech in 2005, had some holes to fill on the offensive line and grabbed him in free agency. At the time, he figured his role would be at tackle, his more natural position.After all, John Tait retired and John St. Clair was an unrestricted free agent who wound up signing with Cleveland in March. Instead, Chicago filled the tackle spots by inserting last year's first-round draft pick Chris Williams and signing seven-time Pro Bowl pick Orlando Pace from St. Louis.The Pace move came on the same day as the Jay Cutler trade with Denver. By adding a possible Hall of Fame lineman and the franchise quarterback they've craved for decades, the Bears showed just how serious they are about contending in the NFC after missing the playoffs the past two years.Until then, their biggest acquisition was Omiyale."He's powerful, got excellent strength and excellent explosion and quickness off the ball," Turner said. "He's gotten better every day as far as the adjustment. This is a new offense for him so it takes time. He's got the natural talent. Now he's getting comfortable in the system."He's also adjusting to guard."I'm just happy that I've gotten a lot more comfortable at the guard position," Omiyale said. "I feel like the techniques I've been doing everyday I've kind of gotten down. I'm not there. I feel good where I'm at right now. I've got a long way to go, and I've got a bunch of good guys in front of me."At the moment, he also appears to have the lead.He's working with the first team. Beekman, meanwhile, is filling in at guard and center, which is where his future could be. His rookie contract expires after the 2010 season _ when veteran Olin Kreutz's deal is up _ and he took some snaps with backup quarterback Brett Basanez on Wednesday.Beekman, however, said he didn't know who the starting left guard was. If he's a backup, he can accept that."I think you always have responsibility if you're a starter or a backup," he said. "I've got to be ready. I've got to know what everyone's doing. I've got to be ready just in case something bad does happen."