The pressure is back on offensive line coach Juan Castillo and he's doubling down on Germain Ifedi.
Last season Castillo had to take an offensive line with various personnel issues over the season and transform them into a makeshift group capable of getting the team into the playoffs, and it worked. Ifedi was a key then, as the former Seattle Seahawks right tackle shifted from right guard to right tackle, but held his own at what had been a problem spot.
Now the Bears have cut left tackle Charles Leno Jr. and he has agreed to terms with the Washington Football Team, so it's going to be rookie Teven Jenkins playing left tackle. The right tackle looks to be Ifedi again even though the team drafted tackle Larry Borom in the fifth round.
"Well, you know the thing I think you have to understand is what we're gonna do on the right side," Castillo said Wednesday during coaching Zoom interviews with Bears media members. "We have. Germain Ifedi, who improved a tremendously from where he came from Seattle, you can just look at the stats. How many pressures. How many sacks that he gave up when he was playing right tackle.
"The thing that you look at is that Germain Ifedi is blessed with God-given talent. He was a first-round draft pick. My job as a coach is to get that out of him. I know that he hadn't been playing like that at Seattle.
"But I think he improved. He cut his penalties over half from what he had at Seattle. And I think everybody would say that if you watched the tape, he played square, which was his problem at Seattle and I think he's just gonna get better. The kid was a first-round draft pick."
-Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo on tackle Germain Ifedi
Nothing is being handed to Ifedi, though. Borom and former Denver Bronco Elijah Wilkinson will be looking to take the spot.
"There's going to be competition, as Germain knows," Castillo said. "There's always competition every year. But he'll line up there to begin with, just like he's lined up there for the last (six games). He lined up there for Seattle for three years and they were a pretty good football team, so Germain's going to get the chance to line up there."
Castillo cited Ifedi's reach of nearly 36 inches, and 345 pounds.
"As we talk, he's busting his ass in Texas in 100-degree weather," Castillo said. "Works as hard as any guy I've been around.
"I don't want to make predictions, but I would not be surprised if this kid made the Pro Bowl next year. Why not, right? Everything is possible, as we know."