Bears

Bears injuries make rookie Hroniss Grasu last man standing

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Bears injuries make rookie Hroniss Grasu last man standing

The Bears and most of the NFL operate on a next-man-up personnel basis; someone goes down, it’s the job of the next man to step up.

For the Bears and their offensive line, it may be more of a last-man-standing situation. After reading through an injury list that stretched to 16 players on Friday, the logical question was put to coach John Fox:

“How are YOU feeling?”

“I feel good,” Fox said, laughing, then adding, “I’m ‘questionable,’” giving himself the same injury report designation as 13 of his players.

Their week of practice leading up to Sunday’s game in Kansas City against the Chiefs ended for the Bears with circumstances conspiring to force radical departures from hoped-for plans.

[MORE: Alshon Jeffery still out, questionable for Sunday]

With left tackle Jermon Bushrod declared out with continuing concussion issues, and reserve guard Patrick Omameh out all week with an ankle injury after stepping in admirably in the win over the Oakland Raiders, the Bears now are expected to open in Kansas City with Matt Slauson back at his customary left-guard spot and rookie Hroniss Grasu starting at center.

Slauson is still an option at center until coach John Fox declares his starters just before game time on Sunday. But Omameh’s status leaves the Bears potentially so short-handed on the line that Grasu likely would be forced into the starting lineup, given that the only reserves at this point are rookie tackle Tajo Fabuluje and recently added tackle Nick Becton, and Omameh in whatever condition he is.

Grasu was one of the few Bears offensive linemen who practiced in full every day this week, which meant he at least got as much time as possible working with the No. 1 offense and quarterback Jay Cutler.

“He’s practiced every day,” Fox said. “So we get to watch those guys practice and participate, really since we drafted him… . I’ve seen him make very good progress.”

[MORE: John Fox has history with Andy Reid's West Coast offense]

A concern with Grasu, as with any rookie, is not only the mental side of the NFL, but literally growing into the job.

“I think guys try to improve their bodies all the time,” Fox said. “Just like in NASCAR, they try to improve the car. It’s important that it’s all working properly. I think [Grasu] is a pro. He’s getting better. He’ll get it. I think it usually takes about a year to develop a pro body.

“It’s a different game we play now. We play pretty much two college seasons here in the NFL. So it takes a little bit of time to get used to that and I’ve seen really good progress. He works very hard in the weight room.”

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

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USA Today

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

The Chicago Bears logo has withstood the test of time. In a sports era full of uniform changes, the Bears have maintained the classic orange 'C' for most of their nearly 100 years in Chicago.

Unfortunately, tradition doesn't equate to popularity.

Chicago's logo ranked 28th in the NFL, according to a recent poll of nearly 1,500 football fans. Only the Redskins (29), Bengals (30), Jets (31) and Browns (32) were worse.

I’m not sure how I feel about the underbite on the “C.” I can see how this would be a polarizing feature of this logo. I wish to an extent that it met up more evenly. I think they could have had the bottom meet up in a more even fashion and still maintained the sharpness, of the “C,” which I like. I don’t mind the point [ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE “C”], without the point it would be super boring. The point actually does add something from a design standpoint that makes it stand out.

Bears fans will take exception with the results. Wins have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but there's still something special about seeing the familiar navy and orange on Sundays in the fall. The 'C' is arguably the biggest part of that. Sure, it's not a complex design overflowing with colors, but it represents a long and storied history. 

It's interesting that each of the bottom five teams have struggled to string together winning seasons. On the flipside, teams like the Saints, Falcons, Rams, Vikings and Eagles rank in the top six. Maybe it's recency bias.

In the NFC North, the Lions rank No. 2 (which is a shocker) and the Packers are No. 20.