Other options at center include Sam Mustipher and Dieter Eiselen. Mustipher started all 17 games for the Bears at center last season but has been working mostly at right guard since Patrick was signed in March. Eiselen has played a total of six snaps—all on special teams—in three games the past two seasons after signing with the Bears in 2020 as an undrafted free agent from Yale.
Asked how he feels about the possibilities at center while Patrick is sidelined, Eberflus said: “I feel good. Sam’s there, who’s played the position. Doug’s there. Both those guys have done a good job with that. It’s great competition in there. Dieter’s played a little bit at center. I think it’s good for those guys.”
Jones made great strides during the offseason. The 6-5, 310-pounder impressed coaches with his athleticism and football intelligence while working with the No. 1 offense at left tackle in the final six spring practices.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Jones is eventually supplanted atop the depth chart, however, by veteran Riley Reiff, who signed with the Bears Tuesday. The 6-6, 305-pounder has been a full-time starter the past nine seasons with the Lions (2013-16), Vikings (2017-20) and Bengals (2021).
“Riley’s still working back in,” Eberflus said. “He’s in a ramp-up phase because he hasn’t been in the program and just coming off of where he was. So, what we’re going to do is work him into individual, then we start to open the reps: he’s got two reps here, four reps here, he’s got the whole period, then he’s got two periods, so forth and so on. You just progress it as you go.”
The on-the-job training will continue for the four rookies throughout training camp.
“My message to them is to learn; every practice rep, every rep they’re going to get in preseason,” Eberflus said. “And they’re going to be able to learn from these veterans. Lucas is going to help. Cody’s going to help. All those guys are going to help those guys to be able to absorb the information and then learn to apply it to the next practice and the next play.”
It certainly isn’t ideal to be shuffling so many different players onto the starting offensive line, but it’s giving the Bears a chance to learn how to deal with adversity.
“A lot of things you can’t change in life, right?” Eberflus said. “You get into situations and there they are. They present themselves. And how do you respond to that situation is all that matters. You can’t take a magic pill, you can’t just invent another player that’s going to show up sometimes. You just have what you have and you have to work through it and make it the best you can. And that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Roster Move: In other news Friday, second-year defensive end Sam Kamara was removed from the physically unable to perform list and is now eligible to practice.