Chicago Bears Offensive Line Continues to be Work in Progress
Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bears edged out a 22-20 win over the Oakland Raiders at Soldier Field on Sunday to notch their first win of the season behind a gutty Jay Cutler and a patchwork offensive line. The offensive line will continue to be a work in progress as the Bears will have to overcome a season ending injury to starting center Will Montgomery.
Montgomery suffered a “friendly fire” injury to his left leg on the third play of the game when Charles Leno Jr rolled up on him. Leno was filling in for starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who missed his first start of the season after suffering a concussion and shoulder injury last week in Seattle. Leno did a decent job at left tackle, especially when you consider he couldn’t secure the starting right tackle job in the preseason.
With Montgomery injured, starting left guard Matt Slauson slid over to the center position and Patrick Omameh stepped up to play left guard. Slauson had a couple of rough moments with a high shotgun snap down near the goal line that Jay Cutler corralled to save a possible major mishap. Cutty and Slauson also had a bad direct exchange that led to a turnover. But all in all, considering the amount of reps he got, he did a fine job.
Slauson was pressed into action because third round draft pick Hroniss Grasu was inactive for the game. In the preseason Grasu appeared to be a bit overmatched. He was pushed around a bit and definitely needed to beef up a bit physically and mentally to prepare for his first NFL action:
"“Ever since the season started, I have been focused on getting ready mentally and getting ready physically,” he said. “I gained some weight and have been lifting a lot, more days extra, and I feel really good and ready to go.”"
It will be telling if the Bears feel Grasu is ready or if they continue with Slauson at center and Omameh at guard.
Another possibility is to go on the outside to add a veteran center. There are a number of veteran centers on the street including a couple of familiar faces: former Bears Roberto Garza and Brian de la Puente. Other names on the street include Dominic Raiola and Samson Satele, who the Bears considered earlier in the offseason.
As much as I’d love to see Garza come back, I think the Bears should dress Grasu and see what they have in their draft pick. This season is about evaluation and there’s no better way to evaluate him then putting him into live action. With road dates against the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions before the bye week, it’s a tough task for the rookie. The downside of starting a rookie who might not be “ready for prime time” is to put an already gimpy Cutler at further risk of injury. You don’t want to hamper the whole offense if Grasu can’t hold his own.
Either way, you can bet that the Bears will be adding an offensive lineman to the 53-man roster when they drop fill in punter Spencer Lanning is cut for the recovering Pat O’Donnell.