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Fox praises makeshift offensive line

After watching tape of Sunday's thrilling 22-20 victory over the Raiders, coach John Fox lauded the performance of the Bears' makeshift offensive line.

Already without injured left tackle Jermon Bushrod, the unit lost a second starter on the third play of the game when center Will Montgomery sustained a broken fibula.

The Bears adjusted by sliding veteran Matt Slauson from left guard to center and installing Patrick Omameh at left guard. The new configuration helped Jay Cutler pass for 281 yards and two touchdowns and Kyle Long rush for 91 yards.


Matt Slauson moved from left guard to center against the Raiders.

"I thought it was tremendous," Fox said Monday. "Early in the game, it's a two-man switch. Pat moving to left guard and Matt going to center, it wasn't all hunky-dory. But I thought they didn't panic and just kept swinging the sword and did pretty good."

Fox was especially impressed with the smooth transition that Slauson made to a position he hadn't played in a game since 2011 when he was with the Jets.

"He's a professional," Fox said. "He didn't have any problems that way. It's just different. He had most of his reps as a left guard. So I think it was pretty amazing what he was able to do."

Fox insisted the changes were just part of a business-as-usual, next-man-up approach.

"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," he said. "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 are a lot of checks at the line. I think we had maybe a couple high shotgun snaps. I know we had the one center-quarterback exchange problem that resulted in a turnover. But the good news was our guys overcame it."

The Bears lost one fumble on a botched exchange between Slauson and Cutler. But they began to utilize more shotgun snaps and had no further problems.

Fox announced that Montgomery will not play Sunday when the Bears visit the Kansas City Chiefs. But the coach declined to say whether rookie center Hroniss Grasu would step into the starting lineup after being inactive the first four games of the season.

The Bears selected Grasu in the third round of this year's draft out of Oregon.

"He's a great guy, works really hard," Slauson said. "Very smart guy. The progress he has made since being here has been awesome. I don't know what's going to happen as far as who's playing where, is he going to be dressing now. I don't know. But I know if his number gets called, I think he'll do great."

Slauson plans on being ready to play center again Sunday in Kansas City if needed.

"Even if I don't start in that spot, I still have to be ready to play it," Slauson said. "If we have Hroniss in there or if we bring in someone, I would assume I'm still the backup. So I still have to be ready to play."

While Slauson did a good job of handling the line calls against the Raiders, he conceded that the process was much smoother with Montgomery at center.

"He sets everything," Slauson said. "The communication is so fast with him in there. Not that it's not with me, but because I had to move, now a new guy comes in in my spot and now we've got two guys playing out of position. So when Will is there, I don't have to worry about anything. So it's a big loss for us."

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