Last year, the Chicago Bears offensive line was incredibly healthy. The front five stayed intact for all 16 contests, which is relatively unheard of in today’s NFL.
This year, the offensive line has been nowhere near as lucky. Through six games, the starters have not started and finished a single contest together.
Left guard Mat Slauson missed three games with a sprained ankle, while center Roberto Garza missed four games with his own ankle injury. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod has missed the past two contests with knee and ankle injuries, and Jordan Mills missed practice yesterday due to a lingering foot injury.
Yet this week, for the first time since the regular-season opener, the Bears will field a fully healthy starting offensive line. The final piece of the puzzle was Bushrod, who practiced in full this afternoon.
“Jermon has played at Pro Bowl levels in the past and is a very good left tackle,” coordinator Aaron Kromer said today. “To have him back, it's definitely a boost.”
Chicago’s offense looked good last week but overall, the unit has underachieved this season. The lack of continuity up front, along with injuries to Pro Bowl receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, has played a role in the diminished returns offensively.
With all five offensive linemen slated to return this week, the offense may be able to finally find its groove.
“It was good [to have all five back],” head coach Marc Trestman said. “We want everybody back as quickly as we can. We're fortunate. We've got a very good room with very good players who've been able to fill in and help out. And that's the luck that we have, I guess. But it was good to see Bush back in there today and it was good to see Jordan working as well.”
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.