Changing of the Guard: Slauson protecting from the shadows

Changing of the Guard: Slauson protecting from the shadows
August 2, 2013, 2:30 pm
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Jake Flannigan

An NFL offensive line must consist of players that are big, strong and as athletic as possible given their physique. Bears guard Matt Slauson, who checks in at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds , fits the bill.

Slauson’s physical attributes have been crucial for paving the way to individual success over his first four seasons. The Sweet Home, Oregon native has proven himself to be a solid pass-blocking interior lineman, while continuing to improve in the run game since being drafted in the sixth round out of Nebraska in 2009.

But he knows the prosperity of the offensive line, and the entire offense for that matter, relies on being smart, disciplined and playing together as one unit.

“This is the best group that I’ve played with top to bottom,” Slauson told CSNChicago.com. “We’ve only been in camp a week and it’s good the way the calls are coming together and the way we are all working together.”

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Slauson, who didn't allow a sack in 2012, is penciled in as the starting left guard. He has flown under the radar since arriving in Bourbonnais, as rookie right guard Kyle Long and injured starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod have received much of the attention.

The minor calf injury to Bushrod and Jonathan Scott’s sore knee have provided an opportunity for Slauson to work with numerous offensive line combinations thus far in training camp.

“I think we are adjusting really well,” Slauson said. “You never want to see guys get hurt, but because that happened, so many guys are having to work with different guys and get to see how we adjust.”

Aaron Kromer, who is the Bears new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, sees a similar opportunity for players who are looking to show their value.

“I always think that it’s important to have versatility, because you have seven guys dressed on game day,” Kromer said. “You need the guy that can play backup guard and center and you need a guy that can play backup tackle on both sides.”

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Missing time due to injury hasn’t been an issue for Slauson so far in his career. After winning the starting left guard position entering his second season in the league, Slauson has started every game the past three seasons for the New York Jets.

“I’m just trying to be on the field every day, for every snap,” Slauson said. “I look at getting hurt as not an option. That’s the way we are as offensive lineman. We only have two backups for the entire line, so I can’t afford to get hurt.”

Slauson is one of the many Bears players that will be playing on a one-year contract in 2013. His success and the team's success will determine what lies ahead for him and his NFL career.

If his past is any indication of his future, Slauson will run out of the tunnel and onto the field for every game; staying in the shadows, just doing his job. He will protect quarterback Jay Cutler and work with whoever is around him to achieve team success.