The Chicago Bears are now in a pickle. With the ranks already thin on the offensive line, the Bears may lose one of their most promising members in the trenches. Center Hroniss Grasu had to be carted off the practice field after he suffered an apparent knee injury.
According to ESPN‘s Jeff Dickerson, Grasu succumbed to a non-contact right knee injury during practice. Grasu, a second-year player, was in a heated battle for the starting job on the Bears’ offensive line.
Thus far it had been a three-way contest between Grasu, veteran Ted Larsen, and rookie Cody Whitehair. There are two spots on the Bears’ line which was up for grabs, center and left guard. Had Hroniss Grasu earned a starting job, it will have likely come at center. The third-round pick from Oregon is too undersized to play at guard.
Bears C Hroniss Grasu departs on a cart as concerned QB Jay Cutler checks in. pic.twitter.com/NOqgskzeqt
— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) August 6, 2016
At the start of Bears’ training camp, Grasu had reportedly gained weight and strength, according to the Chicago Daily Herald. He needed to get bigger and stronger in order to handle the opposing team’s pass rush. Grasu was a turnstile for the Bears at times last season. It was imperative that he could avoid being pushed around. Bears’ fans likely will not get to see his improvement. That will be placed on hold as it is feared Grasu’s knee injury is serious.
Grasu’s right knee buckled while blocking downfield during a screen pass to running back Jacquizz Rodgers. According to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears’ center stumbled on what was likely sod from the Soldier Field turf. Right after the play was over, the coaches noticed that Grasu fell and immediately rushed to his aid. He was surrounded by coaches, Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler, and right guard Kyle Long.
Everyone who was around Hroniss Grasu did their best to help him feel better, but it is obvious that the worst case has happened to him.
Given the way that the injury took place, there is a strong chance that the Bears’ center tore his ACL. And if Grasu did not tear it, he definitely strained it. Either way the Bears will be without him for a lengthy period of time. A final analysis will be taken place soon. Once Grasu’s prognosis is made clear, the Bears will take the necessary steps.
#Bears Ted Larsen has ramen reps at C. Has NFL experience. Better to leave rookie Cody Whitehair at LG.
— John Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin) August 6, 2016
If he has a torn right ACL, the Bears will place him on injured reserve. In this case Grasu will miss the entire 2016 season. The best case is that it is a sprained knee. A sprained knee will land him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. If this happens, the Chicago Bears will have up until a certain time to determine if he will return for some parts of the season. This way, the Bears do not lose a roster spot, although one must be created if he were to return at some point during the season.
The competition on the Bears’ offensive line is likely over with Hroniss Grasu’s knee injury. What has yet to be determined is where Ted Larsen and Cody Whitehair will play.
Larsen is the suitable choice to start at center for the Bears. He has done that before, most recently with the Arizona Cardinals. Typically, the center calls the offensive line plays. The Chicago Bears would be better suited with Larsen in the middle because of his experience.
Another reason for the Bears to keep Ted Larsen at center is development.
Having a player like Larsen at center will allow Cody Whitehair to settle in at a left guard. If the rookie handles the position well, the Bears may have their left guard on offensive line in place for the next five years at least. It is senseless to have an eventual return of Hroniss Grasu placed on the shelf because of a young player performing at his position. Whitehair, a left tackle in college, grades out to be a guard in the first place. It would behoove the Bears to see if he can help with run blocking and pass protection. To help, the Bears could use another player step up in Grasu’s absence.
The offensive line of the Chicago Bears is thin when you think about its overall depth. The Bears will have to find it somewhere, given the absence of Hroniss Grasu.
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]