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Snap judgement: Bears’ Hroniss Grasu debuts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hroniss Grasu had two simple goals on the Bears’ final touchdown play: get the snap back to Jay Cutler, and block.
He didn’t know until after the game Sunday that the quarterback dropped the ball.

“Was it a bad snap?” the rookie asked.

Grasu could afford to smile after an NFL debut that started with disaster and ended with a come-from-behind, 18-17 victory, at raucous Arrowhead Stadium.

A Chiefs up-the-middle pass rush — over Grasu — led to a sack of Cutler in the first quarter. He fumbled in the end zone, and the Chiefs’ Ramik Wilson recovered it for a touchdown.

“That’s how you get better — you move on from plays like that,” Grasu said.

Grasu had help, too. Because the Bears were using a silent count, left guard Matt Slauson helped him make the offensive line calls. Slauson was in charge of the cadence, meaning he looked back at Cutler and, when the quarterback was ready, whacked Grasu’s left thigh with his right arm. Grasu would then snap the ball.

That control helped Slauson correct Grasu’s calls — or make changes when the defense shifted at the last second.

“I thought he did great,” Slauson said. “He was confident, he battled all day. It wasn’t perfect, but none of us up front can say we played a perfect game.”

The undersized Oregon alum — he’s listed at 6-3, 300 pounds — gave up about 50 pounds to nose tackle Dontari Poe. The third-round pick praised the Bears’ strength staff for helping him bulk up, and said he benefited from a recent focus on anchoring his body to not get blown off the line.

“(Poe) just has a really good get-off,” Grasu said. “He’s very aggressive and has a really good club move. I had to do whatever it takes to anchor in there.”

Grasu said he found out he’d start before the game, but had a “good feeling” he would during the week. It became academic when Patrick Omameh, who played guard against the Raiders when Matt Slauson slid to center, was made inactive because of an ankle injury.

Right tackle Kyle Long, Grasu’s college teammate, said he was quiet around the center today but told him early in the week to be himself: “Be confident, be loud, and you’re going to be great.”

The biggest gain might be yet to come. Grasu was going to be groomed eventually as the Bears’ long-term solution at center; that started Sunday, ahead of schedule

“It’s huge, because you can’t practice that out there,” Grasu said. “You can’t practice that whole game. You can’t practice that last final drive. You can’t.

“You just have to go through it.”

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley
Email: pfinley@suntimes.com