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Injuries shaking up offensive line

BOURBONNAIS – Cory Brandon has not played in an NFL game, yet he was the first-team left tackle at the beginning of Wednesday’s practice.

Then Eben Britton, who has 15 starts in the past three seasons – most recently at guard – took over as the top left tackle for the majority of practice. Not an ideal look for a team that still has major questions along the offensive line.

Jermon Bushrod remained out of practice with a right calf injury. He still is wearing a protective boot and is considered day-to-day. His backup, Jonathan Scott, had knee soreness and spent the morning with ice wrapped around it.

The shake-ups on the offensive line led to a rough start for the whole offense after a day off. There were pre-snap penalties, and coach Marc Trestman was visibly frustrated with a couple of them.

“You saw there were a bunch of pre-snap penalties that allowed us to look a lot sloppier than we have practiced throughout,” he said.

Trestman did add that things improved as practice went along on offense.

Other shuffling took place at guard, with James Brown working in at both right and left spots, mixing in with Kyle Long and Matt Slauson. Aaron Kromer, who serves as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, said they are working to find the best group to protect quarterback Jay Cutler.

“Our goal is to find the best five. When we find the best five, it’ll be obvious,” he said. “Whether we put them at left guard, right guard, whoever they are, we’ll find them. And we don’t control when that’ll happen. It’ll just happen.”

Next man up: With cornerback Tim Jennings excused from practice for personal reasons, and lineback D.J. Williams injured, there was a different look in the nickel package. Cornerback Zack Bowman was the boundary corner in place of Jennings with cornerback Kelvin Hayden staying in the slot. James Anderson took Williams’ spot at linebacker.

Red-zone success: Near the end of practice, the offense rallied and strung together some touchdowns in red-zone work. Cutler found receiver Alshon Jeffery for the play of the day, a leaping catch over the middle. He also hit tight end Martellus Bennett and receiver Brandon Marshall for scores.

“Back in the red zone, trying to use our guys, trying to get them to elevate and make plays in space against tight coverage and win the contested throwing battle, so I think that was a good way to end practice,” Trestman said.

Shea’s jump: In the NFL, we often hear about the second-year jump being crucial for players, and defenseive end Shea McClellin is off to a solid training camp. He put a fantastic spin move on offensive lineman J’Marcus Webb to get into the backfield during a pass-rush drill and then showed his versatility with a power move to beat offensive lineman Jordan Mills.

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