Rookie camp a ‘cool moment’ for center — and Bears fan — Doug Kramer
From the western suburbs to Illinois to the Bears — the same path to the NFL as Red Grange — the Hinsdale Central product is living a dream. “I understand what it means to people in this city — to the people who wear it to the people who have worn it in the past.”
The NFL is a huge step for every player at rookie minicamp, but center Doug Kramer has the sweetest transition of all — from Bears fan to Bears player.
The Hinsdale Central graduate, a sixth-round draft pick from Illinois, had his introduction to Halas Hall this weekend. After being ‘‘kind of in shock’’ about becoming a Bear when he was drafted last week, the reality finally hit him.
‘‘That’s a cool moment,’’ Kramer said. ‘‘I know what the logo means to so many people in this city. I was impacted by the team growing up. One of the reasons why I fell in love with the game was watching the Bears as a kid.
‘‘I understand what it means to people in this city, to the people who wear it, to the people who have worn it in the past. Obviously, I haven’t gone through it yet, so there are still things I need to learn and figure out. I’m just happy to go through it.’’
Kramer, who will turn 24 next month, was coming of age as a sports fan when the Bears went to Super Bowl XLI in February 2007. So his favorite Bears players growing up were predictable.
‘‘Before I started playing offensive line, it was Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester,’’ Kramer said. ‘‘Those are the two guys I think a lot of young guys growing up in Chicago loved.
‘‘Once I started playing offensive line, Olin Kreutz was the guy that I always watched. I just loved the way he played the game, what he stood for. He just got after it every single play, so I loved him.’’
Now the work begins. As a sixth-round pick, the 6-2, 299-pound Kramer has a long road ahead of him, with the practice squad a likely spot to learn behind Lucas Patrick. But centers with his makeup have had long NFL careers.
‘‘You just have to have confidence in yourself and your ability,’’ said Kramer, who started 48 games in five seasons at Illinois and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2021. ‘‘I was drafted here, and this is the reality. Now it’s about taking it to the field and the film room, getting to meet the guys in the offensive line room, become a part of that room and earn that spot.’’
Looking out for No. 1
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is undaunted by the likelihood that the Bears will go into training camp without a proven No. 1 receiver. He’s hoping the offense will produce one.
‘‘Everybody wants Davante Adams. Who wouldn’t want Davante Adams, right?’’ said Getsy, who was the Packers’ quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator the last two seasons. ‘‘But Davante wasn’t Davante until he became Davante. I think the system will enable some of these guys to play at their potential, so we’ll see what we can do. We’ll give them an opportunity to show what they’ve got.’’
Receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who had nine receptions for 98 yards and no touchdowns for the Packers last season, is a candidate to be better than people think. The Bears signed St. Brown to a one-year contract in free agency.
‘‘I was really excited that we were able to snag him because I think his best football is ahead of him,’’ Getsy said. ‘‘You talk about a big body, a guy that can run, his toughness and all that stuff and everything we’re going to preach in this system, he’s that expectation. He’s that leader of that mindset.’’