Expect Bears to start Matt Slauson at center vs. Chiefs


Expect Bears to start Matt Slauson at center vs. Chiefs

Coach John Fox likely will not formally reveal until just before game time whether left guard Matt Slauson will remain at guard in Kansas City against the Chiefs or rookie Hroniss Grasu will get a sudden start after being on the inactive list the first four games of his rookie season.

But based strictly on Fox’s assessment of Grasu’s readiness to start an NFL game, which was not exactly damning with faint praise, but close to it, Slauson will anchor the Bears’ offensive line next Sunday.

“Hmm,” Fox said, pausing. “I think [Grasu] is a very talented player. He’s a guy that’s familiar with our offense. I think everybody in our locker room, or in our football building, has confidence in him. At some point, we will get to find out.”

Which does not sound like next Sunday in Kansas City is “some point” just yet. The Chiefs’ 3-4 scheme has two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe’s 346 pounds frequently over opposing centers. Kansas City opened Sunday against Cincinnati with one other defensive lineman besides Poe plus their four linebackers.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Slauson, who has consistently graded out as the No. 1 or 2 Bears offensive lineman in his two-plus Chicago seasons, just wants early clarity, which he presumably received on Monday.

“It's only important to me if I'm going to play center because obviously I want to be working in that spot all week,” said Slauson, who slid over to center four plays into the Bears’ 22-20 win Sunday over the Oakland Raiders after Will Montgomery suffered a broken left leg. “As far as guard reps, I think I have a pretty good grasp of how to play that spot. But if I'm going to be the center this week I'd like to know that soon.”

The situation bears some semblance of what the Bears went through at right guard/tackle, with Kyle Long able to play either and the decision coming down to whether Vladimir Ducasse was a better guard than Jordan Mills was a tackle. In this case, Patrick Omameh played well stepping in at left guard and rates an edge over Grasu at this point in their careers.

[MORE: Explaining Cutler's Week 4 grade against Raiders]

Fox was effusive in his praise of Slauson, who managed the line calls as well as blocking Oakland nose tackle Dan Williams and holding the 330-pounder to one tackle.

“I thought it was tremendous,” Fox said. “That early in the game, it’s a two-man switch. Typically in this league, you go in with seven linemen, and even Pat moving over to left guard and Matt going to center, it wasn’t all hunky-dory. But I thought they didn’t panic and just kept swinging the sword and did pretty good.”

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.

According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.

The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.

For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.

Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

The Chicago Bears will kick off the fourth season of "Meet the Rookies" on June 25, a series that profiles four of the team's 2018 draft picks for a behind-the-scenes look at their journey to the NFL.

The four-episode series will air on at 7:00 p.m from June 25 - 28 and will feature one rookie per night. 

Monday's episode will cover the Bears' first-round pick, Roquan Smith. Selected with the eighth-overall pick, Smith is expected to become an instant-impact player on defense. He's expected to make an impact off the field, too, as a high-character leader. Smith's linebacker-mate Joel Iyiegbuniwe is the focus of Tuesday's episode, with Anthony Miller (Wednesday) and James Daniels (Thursday) rounding out Season 4.

For a deeper dive into what's in store in "Meet the Rookies," check out this description.