2015 Bears draft report: Hroniss Grasu becomes present, and projected future, at center


2015 Bears draft report: Hroniss Grasu becomes present, and projected future, at center

The Bears signed veteran center Will Montgomery to a one-year deal in the offseason, to stabilize the offensive line with someone familiar with coordinator Adam Gase from their days with the Denver Broncos. But Montgomery was lost for the season with a leg injury against the Oakland Raiders in Week 4, rocking the entire position group. Briefly.

Third-round pick Hroniss Grasu effectively “won” the No. 1 center job in the week of practice after the Montgomery injury. With Grasu inactive for the Raiders, Matt Slauson had moved over to center from left guard. But the days that followed that game, the rookie showed the coaches enough to install him at center, return Slauson to guard and assign Grasu to handle two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Before that, however, back in training camp, coaches saw no reason to over-use Montgomery. Instead they gave a huge share of the work, in practice and in preseason games, to the rookie from Oregon.

[MORE BEARS: 2015 Bears draft report - Eddie Goldman anchoring the defensive line]

“We laughed about it, him saying, ‘You damn-near tried to kill me in [training] camp.],’” said line coach Dave Magazu. “He had a ton of work in training camp and obviously things are a lot different playing center in the pro game than it is in college.

“We thought he was very close to being NFL-ready but there were a lot of things he had to learn. He started to melt a little like an ice cream cone in camp because he was getting so much work.”

Grasu has far from melted. The last Bears rookie to start at center was Olin Kreutz, a third-round pick in 1998, and that was just for one game. Grasu is seen as both the present and the future at the position for the Bears.

Along with the specifics of the job, Grasu has earned the respect of teammates, particularly the ones in his own meeting room.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“I think,” offensive tackle Kyle Long said. “He did such a great job leaning on Will Montgomery in the months that he’s been here, because Monty has such a unique understanding of this offense having that he’s been there since the birth of it with Peyton [Manning] and variations of the offense.

“Hroniss did a great job using that resource, and obviously Matt Slauson, can’t say enough about Matt Slauson and the job he does, being able to break it down to simpler terms and really show things to the guys—although Hroniss is really smart. We have a lot of complex things that go on within our offense, and he’s done a great job handling that.”

Next: S Adrian Amos

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

USA Today

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21. 

Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.

All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.

The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players. 

The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.

Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons. 

Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.

Despite his disappointing sophomore season,'s Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.

CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.

The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.

It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.

We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.