Shaw Local is counting down the top 25 most important Bears for the 2022 season.
What makes one player more important than another? That’s subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?
For example, Justin Fields might not be the best player on the Bears in 2022 (or maybe he will be), but he certainly is among the most important.
No. 10 Lucas Patrick
NFL experience: Seventh season
Last year’s ranking: N/A
Looking back: One of general manager Ryan Poles’ first moves in free agency was to sign former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Lucas Patrick. The Bears brought in Patrick to play center and bolster the interior of the offensive line. They also liked his competitive fire and the no-nonsense attitude that he will bring to the offensive line.
Patrick, 28, spent six seasons with the Packers, including his rookie year on the practice squad. The Packers originally signed Patrick as an undrafted rookie out of Duke in 2016. Patrick played primarily on special teams during his first few years on the active roster. Not until 2020 did he become a regular starter. Not until 2021 did he start regularly at center. The vast majority of his experience before last season was at right and left guard. He wound up starting 11 regular-season games at center last season.
Looking forward: Even after only 13 career starts at center, Patrick came to Chicago and took over the starting center position from Sam Mustipher. All indications from the spring practice session point toward Patrick keeping that job. The Bears are hoping that Patrick will bring leadership and toughness to the offensive line. His veteran presence should keep everyone else in line.
Patrick signed a two-year contract with the Bears, so he’s a part of their plan beyond 2022. Patrick played for new Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy when both were in Green Bay. The Bears wouldn’t have signed Patrick without Getsy’s approval. Getsy clearly saw promise in Patrick’s 11 starts at center last season. He brings the toughness Poles wants, and he brings experience in the Bears’ new run-blocking scheme. Although there might be some doubts about the rest of the offensive line, the Bears should feel fairly confident that Patrick will blossom into a leader on the offensive line.
In case you missed it: Previous installments of the top 25
- No. 25: Equanimeous St. Brown
- No. 24: Sam Mustipher
- No. 23: Khalil Herbert
- No. 22: Al-Quadin Muhammad
- No. 21: Cody Whitehair
- No. 20: Khari Blasingame
- No. 19: Justin Jones
- No. 18: Thomas Graham Jr.
- No. 17: Trevis Gipson
- No. 16: Byron Pringle
- No. 15: Nicholas Morrow
- No. 14: Velus Jones Jr.
- No. 13: Teven Jenkins
- No. 12: Jaquan Brisker
- No. 11: Kyler Gordon