BOURBONNAIS -- Much has been made of the potential of the Chicago Bears' offensive line heading into the 2014 season. The optimism comes with good reason, too. The Bears made great progress up front during a record-setting offensive year in 2013. They started the same quintet on the offensive line for all 16 games and then brought that starting group back intact this season.
But in the early stages of training camp, the need for quality depth has been obvious. On Friday, veteran center Roberto Garza missed practice at Olivet Nazarene University, an excused absence for personal reasons. And second-year right guard Kyle Long missed his seventh consecutive camp practice, still held out due to a viral infection.
That meant the first-unit offense on Friday featured Michael Ola in Long's spot and Brian de la Puente in Garza's alongside the incumbent starters -- right tackle Jordan Mills, left guard Matt Slauson and left tackle Jermon Bushrod.
It's too early to sound any alarm bells. The Bears still have more than five weeks to get their starting quintet healthy and ready for action in the Sept. 7 season opener. But at the very least, Ola and de la Puente are now getting a chance to build some chemistry on the o-line with an opportunity to solidify roster spots.
Long, meanwhile, is expected to get back into pads Saturday night at Soldier Field when the Bears hold a night practice in Chicago. Head coach Marc Trestman detailed the preliminary plans for working the young Pro Bowler back into action in that practice.
"I think he'll do individual (work)," Trestman said. "If we're on schedule here. He may do more than individual. But I wouldn't count on it. Our goals are to get him in pads (Saturday) night and then get him through individual. And then we'll see where he is on Sunday and work in a positive way to get him on the field on Monday."
Twitter @danwiedererCopyright © 2015, RedEye