Matt Slauson: Losing Montgomery is a huge blow to Chicago’s O-line

The Bears will have to find a solution at center since starter Will Montgomery has a fractured leg.

Mike Dinovo/Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Quarterback Jay Cutler seems over his hamstring problems. The Chicago Bears now have to worry about who’s available to block for him.

The loss of center Will Montgomery to a broken left fibula in Sunday’s 22-20 win over the Oakland Raiders left the offensive line scrambling, and the grouping for this Sunday’s game in Kansas City appears uncertain at best. Coach John Fox said he had no idea whether Montgomery’s injury was a season-ender, but it definitely forces a shift this week.

”It happens at a lot of positions in a lot of football games in the National Football League,” Fox said Monday. ”All your backups.have to be ready to play in a moment’s notice, particularly in the O-line because it is such a group dynamic. It’s five guys knowing exactly what the other guy is doing with line calls, pass protection alerts. We run some no-huddle, so there’s a lot of checks at the line.”

Left guard Matt Slauson shifted over from center after taking what he estimated were just six snaps at center all year and none in a regular season game.

Montgomery’s injury occurred on the third play, so Slauson played amost the entire contest. That meant newly acquired Patrick Omameh came in at Slauson’s regular spot. The Bears already were without starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod due to a concussion and shoulder injury.

”I think we had maybe a couple high shotgun snaps,” Fox said. ”I know we had the one center-quarterback exchange problem that resulted in a turnover. But the good news was our guys overcame it.”

Fox said some problems were understandable considering more than half the line was out or at different positions.

”But I thought they didn’t panic and just kept swinging the sword and did pretty good,” Fox said.

Being in charge of the line at a strange position left Slauson feeling a need afterward to decompress.

”It was tough,” he said. ”I spent my time with my family, had a couple beers, and then a couple more. But it was good.”

Slauson, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound former New York Jet, missed three games last year with an ankle injury before suffering a season-ending chest injury after the eighth game. He called losing Montgomery a huge blow to the line.

”He sets everything,” Slauson said. ”The communication is so fast with him in there. And not that it’s not with me, but because I have to move, now a new guy comes in in my spot and now we’ve got two guys playing out of position.”

The Bears drafted center Hroniss Grasu from Oregon in the third round this year, but Fox wasn’t ready to commit to starting him at Arrowhead Stadium yet.

”I think he’s a very talented player,” Fox said. ”He’s a guy that’s familiar with our offense. I think everybody in our locker room, or in our football building, has confidence in him. At some point, we will get to find out.”

NOTES: Safety Antrel Rolle remains day to day with a left ankle injury suffered in Sunday’s game. Fox said X-rays on the leg were negative. … Sunday’s win allowed the Bears to avert recording an all-time franchise losing streak. They had tied the franchise record of eight straight losses dating to last season. … Kicker Robbie Gould needs five points to become the franchse’s all-time scoring leader.

Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL