Grasu, other Bears have to prove they're versatile
BOURBONNAIS -- Chicago Bears backup center Hroniss Grasu took some reps at guard Sunday, and the 2015 third-round pick probably has to prove he's serviceable at more than one position to guarantee a roster spot.
Grasu started eight games as a rookie and was the starting center last year until he suffered a torn ACL in a training camp practice and missed the entire season.
Rookie Cody Whitehair replaced him and the second-round pick (56th overall) played so well that he's now entrenched in the middle.
"I mention to you guys all the time, 'Don't freak out when we move people, because that flexibility is really critical through a whole football season,'" coach John Fox said.
"They've got to play multiple positions. Guys have to have a swing position, and that would be Hroniss as far as (playing) center and guard -- both."
Grasu had been considered exclusively a center until recently.
"I'll do whatever they tell me to do," he said. "They know I'm here for the team. If they want me to hop on one leg the whole day, I'll hop on one leg."
Making a play:
During an 11-on-11 session in Sunday morning's practice, rookie safety Eddie Jackson broke quickly on a sideline pass by Mitch Trubisky and streaked in front of the intended receiver for an interception.
"He had a nice pick today," coach John Fox observed about the fourth-round pick (112th overall) from Alabama. "My experience has been when a guy has punt-return ability, he can play and track the ball a little bit like an outfielder. He's got good ball skills."
Jackson averaged 23.0 yards on 11 punt returns for the Tide last year, including 2 touchdowns. He also averaged 33.7 return yards on his 9 career interceptions.
Jackson has been fielding punts in camp, along with Bryce Callahan, wide receiver Daniel Braverman and rookie running back Tarik Cohen.
Undrafted rookie Tanner Gentry, a 6-foot-2, 209-pound wide receiver from Wyoming, must overcome a daunting numbers game, even for a spot on the practice squad, but he's off to a solid start.
"He caught my eye," coach John Fox said. "I know the head coach there (Craig Bohl) very well. (Gentry) is just a guy that has been productive in college football.
"He's just looking for the opportunity, and he's made the most of it so far. He did it in the off-season, and he flashes out there even early in camp."
As a senior at Wyoming, Gentry caught 72 passes for 1,326 yards (18.4-yard average) and 14 touchdowns.
Down and out:
Wide receiver Markus Wheaton, who signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Bears during free agency, is out indefinitely after having an appendectomy Sunday morning.
"He had some stomach pains last night about 4 a.m.," coach John Fox said. "Our training staff did a good job, and he had an appendectomy about 9 o'clock (Sunday) morning.
"They'll keep him in the hospital tonight. They caught it, and it didn't rupture, which is a good thing."
Running back Benny Cunningham wore an orange (hands off) jersey at Sunday's practice because of a stiff neck. Guard Eric Kush left practice with a tight hamstring.
"Just trying to be cautious," Fox said of Kush. "It wasn't a setback, just being cautious."
Center-guard Taylor Boggs also left early with concussion-like symptoms.
Guard Kyle Long (soreness) returned to practice, but running back Jeremy Langford (ankle), linebacker Dan Skuta (hip) and guard Josh Sitton (paternity leave) remained out. Sitton is expected back Monday.
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