What does Manny Ramirez signing mean for Bears’ Hroniss Grasu?

SHARE What does Manny Ramirez signing mean for Bears’ Hroniss Grasu?

Bears center Hroniss Grasu with former RB Matt Forte. (AP)

The Bears’ decision to sign center/guard Manny Ramirez to a one-year deal is one that general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox said was coming.

Asked about second-year center Hroniss Grasu at the NFL owners meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, Pace and Fox said more competition was needed.

With Matt Slauson and Kyle Long at guard, Ramirez, 33, is an experienced option if Grasu requires more time to develop, but he also improves the line’s depth.

The Bears still remain high on Grasu, a third-round pick from Oregon last year. His up-and-down moments from last season can be attributed to inexperience. Adding Ramirez, who has 65 career starts, provides Grasu with competition and a mentor.

“The things that give me confidence in [Grasu] is he’s a smart guy [and] he’s a hard worker,” Pace said last week. “All the things that he needs to do, you’re going to see an improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. But all these positions, we’re going to keep trying to create competition.”

Similar to other free-agent signings, Ramirez has Bears connections. He spent four seasons with Fox and offensive line coach Dave Magazu with the Broncos. Ramirez was the Broncos’ starting center in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Ramirez was traded to the Lions last year during the draft. He played in every game, making seven starts and seeing time at guard and center.

Last season, the Bears signed Will Montgomery, another ex-Bronco, to a one-year deal. But Montgomery broke his leg and was placed on injured reserve in October.

As a result, Grasu was pressed into early service. He started eight games, missed three with a neck injury and sat out the season finale against the Lions because of a knee ailment.

Fox thinks Grasu, a decorated college player, will be better prepared for this season.

“If you think about a college season as a mile, and then all of a sudden you change your race to a two-mile, you have to train and prepare differently,” Fox said at the owners meetings. “Well, they don’t have that opportunity as rookies. There’s a little bit of opportunity, but not a full calendar year. That’s why you see a big jump with these guys from that freshman to sophomore [seasons] or first year to second year. They can actually train for the two-mile now.”

The Bears also are expected to sign veteran guard Ted Larsen, according to ESPN. It’s considered another depth move that also will increase competition.

Larsen has started 57 games in six seasons, including 26 the last two regular seasons with the Cardinals. He was a sixth-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2010.

Signing Larsen would reunite him with right tackle Bobby Massie, who signed a three-year deal with the Bears. Larsen started nine games at right guard last year for the Cardinals, including two in the postseason. He also started three games at left guard earlier last season.

Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

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