Good morning Windy City Gridiron faithful! First off, allow me to introduce myself in the debut article for the most venerable Bears blog in all the land. Many of you know me by the handle of Ditka’s Pushbroom. Sadly, that moniker has been sent to the archives in favor of being able to bring you, the wonderful readers of WCG, my thoughts on a different platform.
The first series that I wanted to share with you all will be dubbed: Upsets, Underdogs and Dark Horses. As the title would suggest, there are a few players flying a bit under the radar that I feel have an opportunity to make not only the roster, but actually make an impact on the 2017 season.
As luck would have it, the Bears have thrown me a curve ball. I had Tanner Gentry as one of the players I wanted to discuss but alas, Victor Cruz has salsa danced all over this article.
If you still want to read up on Tanner Gentry, EJ Snyder has given us a nice breakdown here. With the signing of Cruz, I now see Gentry sliding onto the Practice Squad, a better possibility with the move to a single pre-season cut day.
As I was walking to the office Friday morning, it dawned on me what direction I should go with this article. The 3rd year pro out of Oregon: Hroniss Grasu. Before condemning me as a crackpot, hear me out. There is a very likely scenario that could play out in which this becomes a distinct possibility. Stay with me here.
Kyle Long is recovering from a rather grizzly ankle injury. Given that his injury was not only horrific but there were complications which arose from the anesthesia administered during surgery. The effects of this were two-fold. First, Long lost a ton of weight. Second, Long opted not to have surgery performed on his torn Shoulder Labrum.
The All-Pro Right Guard was one of several players who did not participate at Organized Team Activities (OTA’s) this past week. While Long has been putting weight back on, there is a distinct possibility that he starts the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
Enter Cody Whitehair. If we take a quick trip down memory lane, we will recall that Whitehair was originally planning to be the Left Guard for the 2016 season. That was until Josh Sitton inexplicably fell into the Bears’ lap. Sitton has played the majority of his snaps at Right Guard in his NFL career and the plan for 2017 was to switch Sitton to Right Guard and Long to Left Guard. Still with me? Good!
Whitehair has experience on the left side of the line given that he played Left Tackle in college and spent the 2016 off-season playing Left Guard for the Bears. Whitehair makes the most sense as the player to replace Long in the lineup, should Long start the season on the PUP list.
This is where Hroniss Grasu comes into play. By all accounts, Grasu was having an excellent off-season before tearing his ACL at the 2016 Bears Family Fest, thus ending his season. If Grasu is fully healthy, and I have heard nothing to the contrary, he makes sense to slide into the starting lineup at Center.
Should Grasu put together another promising off-season, I am putting my money on the guy who is hungry and has a chip on his shoulder. With an up-and-down Rookie season in 2015, a wasted 2016 season thanks to a torn ACL, I think Grasu comes out swinging and impresses the Bears coaching staff.
What do you think, can Hroniss Grasu make the team and crack the lineup if Kyle Long is on the shelf?
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