Webb battling to remain sober as well as for a job

Bears tackle vying to be viable player while on personal front confronting substance abuse

The Bears have gone out of their way this offseason to find a reliable left tackle and to stabilize the entire offensive line.

Meanwhile, last year's starting left tackle — J'Marcus Webb — has been spending the offseason trying to find himself and remain sober.

The Bears signed free-agent veteran left tackle Jermon Bushrod and invested a first-round NFL draft pick on 6-foot-6, 313-pound guard Kyle Long, whom they think will be able to play either tackle position eventually. Several other offensive linemen have been acquired to generate competition during training camp.

"My thoughts are mainly on myself," Webb told the Tribune when asked about the moves. "I'm getting stronger, physically and mentally, with my preparation for this new offense. There are going to be moves everywhere, and the best five (linemen) will play. I am going to make sure I am one of those."

Webb had a brush with the law in late February in downstate Pulaski County in which he initially was charged with possession of a controlled substance, cannabis and paraphernalia. The charges subsequently were dropped, but Webb is subject to the NFL's substance abuse policies and consequently is undergoing treatment to deal with his issues.

Webb says he has been attending church regularly while dealing with his problems he says adversely affected his play. He credits the Rev. Michael Pfleger for making him accountable for his actions.

"He impacts me every Sunday, actually," Webb said. "He has something in his service (at St. Sabina Catholic Church) I can relate to. He calls me out when he needs to and he has put the Word into me. It is definitely helping my mind."

The Bears are hopeful Webb's attempt at a personal revival will aid their reconstruction of the offensive line.

"I (think of myself) as an asset," said Webb, who also has played right tackle for the Bears.

Long, whom the Bears made the 20th overall pick of the draft last month, also has addressed past drug and alcohol indiscretions. While Webb is entering his fourth year in the league, he and Long are both 24.

"It's definitely important to get our lives together," the 6-7, 333-pound Webb said. "The Bears (coaches) are looking for the man, before the football player. One of the things (new coach Marc Trestman) always puts up on the board is: 'We're not in the football business; we're in the people business.' If (Long) had those issues at a young age, you know, those things happen. And I hope and wish the best for him.

"I have been through a couple of those issues. And now that I have taken the time to get sober and to remain sober and focus on that … it definitely has helped me on the field and off.

"(The arrest) was a wake-up call. I had not been in one of those situations before, but I definitely had to deal with the consequences. I had to take the time to handle them and man up."

fmitchell@tribune.com

Twitter @kicker34

CHICAGO