Less than one week into training camp, the Bears moved quickly to address their glaring need on the offensive line, hoping to protect Jay Cutler from another season-long beat down.
“Left tackle is critical,” said coach Mike Tice. “So we’ll be going with our oversized orange cone and hopefully it can lock down the starting job for the next decade.”
Plucked from obscurity on a tollway construction site, the orange cone may be one of the few undrafted free agents to pan out for the Bears. In early seven on seven drills, the cone held up well against Julius Peppers, standing its ground against a variety of bull rush and spin move techniques.
“Coney has a nice wide base and is as quick as anyone out there,” Tice said. “Plus it has a little bit of nasty, which I like.”
“It’s tough,” echoed Peppers. “I’m used to our tackles standing perfectly still, but that cone really makes you work at it. It doesn’t go for any of my moves. Every play, it’s just there in the right spot – no trash talk, no funny business. Same old Coney, every time.”
Even Cutler, the man whose fragile blind side the orange cone has been charged with protecting, seems to be on board.
“With Olin [Kreutz] gone, our line lost a lot of personality and fire, but that cone has really stepped up,” said Cutler. “It knows it has a job to do and doesn’t want any special treatment, except that Garza does have to carry it back and forth from the huddle to the line of scrimmage.”
One aspect of the line’s play that the cone is expected to improve is the elimination of crucial false start penalties.
“It’s been perfect so far,” Tice said. “You can yell at it, pipe in crowd noise, change the count, quick snap, doesn’t matter. Coney stays perfectly still, like it can’t hear a thing.”
By Dave Gallagher