The Chicago Bears will be without starting center Lucas Patrick for the foreseeable future after head coach Matt Eberflus confirmed Patrick has a right hand injury.
The injury isn’t expected to hold Patrick out of the season opener, but he’s going to miss most of training camp and the preseason. With Patrick sidelined indefinitely, rookie Doug Kramer is the next man up at center.
“Obviously, it’s a great opportunity,” Kramer said, via The Athletic. “It’s still super early in camp, so right now I’m just trying to stay locked in, learn as much as I can and try to go after that spot, for sure.”
Kramer has been taking second-team reps at center throughout the offseason, and he’s emerging as the favorite to be Patrick’s backup in 2022. But the hope is Kramer develops into a starter for Chicago down the line.
“I’ve worked to try to get to that point, and I’ve put in a lot of time studying the playbook and trying to understand things in great detail and depth so I can be a tool for the other guys on the offensive line,” Kramer said. “And that’s a very similar mindset to what I had in Illinois, and I’m just trying to get back to that understanding of the level of detail that’s needed to be a center in this league.”
Considering Sam Mustipher started all 17 games at center for the Bears last season, it’s been notable that Kramer stepped in for Patrick when he exited practice. Kramer has been the one taking reps at center with the starters while Mustipher has been at right guard. But Mustipher did see some center reps at center during Friday’s practice.
“Super smart. Able to make all the calls,” Eberflus said of Kramer. “Sometimes you think, ‘Well, mentally it might be too big for somebody to make the mike points and change protections with the quarterback and make the line calls and be the point guy on that.’ It’s not. He’s able to do that. Now, the physical side of it, he has to learn leverage and how to play and jump to the second level under control and be able to stick and stay on linebackers, you know, understanding all those things. That’s to be expected.”