But the safety of Cutler is no joke and that is the focus of what is believed to be the only legitimate training camp battle for a starting job at Olivet Nazarene University. That competition took an unexpected turn Wednesday when Chris Williams, scheduled to practice with the starters at left tackle, was moved to right tackle.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said Tuesday that Williams would practice with the first team Wednesday but instead J'Marcus Webb, who started all 16 games there last season, spent the second consecutive day there. The players had been rotating days. Efforts to get Tice for comment were unsuccessful because the team allows assistant coaches to speak with media only one day per week.
"What some people think, I don't know about that," Smith said when asked if too much could be read into the competition being over? "We have a system and a rotation that we're looking at. We want to get a good look at everyone and that's what we're doing right now. What position are we talking about?"
"We have a lot of things going on right now," Smith said. "We got our sixth practice in, so don't look into it too much right now. Except it's safe to say Jay is going to start at quarterback."
Webb said he does not believe the competition, which started in spring, has reached an end.
"Definitely not," he said. "This is day four of pads."
Williams is hopeful his shot at a starting job is not over because Carimi is entrenched on the right side and he's not going to unseat him.
"I don't know what is going on," said Williams, the Bears' first-round draft pick in 2008. "I just do what they tell me to do. I just came out and (Tice) said he wanted to work me on the right so I worked some on the right."
As line coach, Tice moved quickly to select a starting five the previous two summers, deciding the left tackle spot after two days of padded practices last year. Ideally, a decision will be made in advance of the Aug. 9 exhibition opener with the Broncos at Soldier Field. The more time the starting unit has to play together, theoretically the more fluid it should be.
Williams reported to camp in fine shape but signs all along have pointed to Webb keeping the job:
Foremost, Williams was the starting left tackle for Tice's first two games as line coach in 2010 before suffering a hamstring injury. He never has returned to the position after getting healthy until this offseason.
Tice and Smith both professed faith in Webb during the offseason. Webb is more of a prototypical left tackle but he was far too inconsistent in 2011 to enter camp as the unquestioned starter. Williams' presence, in the final year of his contract, should push him.
If the Bears didn't pull Webb from the position last season, why are they going to replace him now?
Whichever player does not win the starting left tackle job is expected to become the swing tackle. Webb played right tackle more recently, starting there in 2010. Williams last played right tackle in Week 12 of the 2009. Undrafted rookie free agent James Brown worked with the second team at left tackle.
"I feel I have been practicing pretty good," Williams said. "Just out here working, working on stuff every day. Every day is an adventure. Got something else to work on.
"I came to win the job. Whatever they decide to do is on them. No point in being pissed off about things you can't control."