Bears center Hroniss Grasu tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee when he fell to the ground without being touched during “Family Fest,” sources told the Sun-Times Saturday night. He will require surgery and is likely lost for the season.
The results of his late Saturday MRI are a blow to the Bears’ offensive line depth; either veteran Ted Larsen or rookie Cody Whitehair is now expected to start for the team, unless it looks outside the current roster.
The Bears’ second-year center grabbed at his right knee Saturday afternoon before being helped off the spotty Soldier Field grass and placed in a trainer’s cart.
Coach John Fox saw the injury happen. The second-year player “was changing direction and it didn’t go well,” he said, on a screen pass to Jacquizz Rodgers. When Grasu reached the sideline in obvious pain, quarterback Jay Cutler and center Kyle Long offered encouragement.
“I’m not gonna concede the fact that he’s gone now,” Fox said immediately after the practice. “He was injured, and until the medical people look at it I won’t know the extent.”
Replacing Grasu will tax a line already facing depth issues.
Larsen has started 10 career games at center. Whitehair has seen practice time at center, too, which would open left guard for Larsen. Cornelius Edison is the team’s second-string center, but he’s never played an NFL game.
Bears backup center Manny Ramirez retired in June. They cut Matt Slauson in May; he’s taking first-team snaps with the Chargers.
“We’re always looking to get better, but we feel good about the guys we have,” Fox said. “I thought we actually ran the ball pretty good (Saturday), so that’s a positive.”
Grasu’s injury occurred on Soldier Field’s grass, which seemed chewed up, particularly for the summer. It hosted a soccer match between AC Milan and Bayern Munich on July 27 and two Coldplay concerts the weekend before.
Defensive end Akiem Hicks said the turf was “fine,” but offered little praise otherwise.
“You can’t really blame everything on the field,” Hicks said.