LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- When he thought back to the years of work that led him to this point, new Bears offensive lineman Lucas Patrick paused and fought back tears.
How does an undrafted player earn a tryout with the Packers, stick on their roster for six years and emerge as a coveted free agent?
“Just have gratitude,” Patrick said last Friday after signing a two-year deal with the Bears. “I’m not here on my own. There’s a lot of people who did a lot of things for me to get to this point.
“If you’re never looking too far ahead and stay in the moment, you can really enjoy what you’re doing and not look at it as a job. Because this is a dream.
“I’m just grateful.”
In between the lines, Patrick is considered a physical presence who plays with a nasty streak. He’s exactly the type of offensive lineman whom new Bears general manager Ryan Poles wanted as he works to reshape Chicago’s offense around 23-year-old quarterback Justin Fields. Patrick projects to play center for the Bears but has the versatility to play guard as well.
In Green Bay, Patrick earned the faith of future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers not just because of his ability to protect him. Rodgers also saw the deeper perspective of the 28-year-old Patrick, who landed a roster spot after a May 2016 minicamp tryout but didn’t earn a significant role until his fifth year with the Packers.
Rodgers saw a player who was appreciative and willing to work.
“You have to be a pro, be consistent,” Patrick said. “You’ve got to develop too. Like, I mean, it wasn’t over one year or two years. It was a three-, four-year process.
“Playing the way I play, he appreciated that.”
Patrick started 34 games over his six years in Green Bay, including 28 over the last two seasons. The Bears are now turning to him with the hope that he can anchor an offensive line that struggled to protect Fields in his rookie season. He was sacked on a league-worst 11.8% of dropbacks in 2021, and Poles saw an immediate need to improve the line.
A former offensive lineman at Boston College, Poles knew what he wants in the Bears’ blockers.
"Lucas is more than just a football player,” Poles said in a statement. “He is going to add leadership to our offensive line and raise the standard of how the Chicago Bears will play with grit, tenacity and finish."
Patrick is likely to start at center in place of Sam Mustipher, who was brought back by the Bears for depth after struggling last season. The Bears still have a void at right guard after losing James Daniels (Steelers) and Alex Bars (Raiders) in free agency. That could be filled by veteran Ryan Bates, whom the Bears hosted for a visit Tuesday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears believe Patrick is a player and person who can help them sustain success. After six years of success with the Packers, he hopes to carry that on with his new team.
"I've been on the winning side, and I'm going to stay on the winning side," Patrick said. "We're going to start winning these games. I firmly believe to win a Bears-Packers game, you've got to win it up front. You go to be physical, you've got to be tough and that's what we're going to do here.
"I feel like whoever wins those games takes the North. Like Ryan (Poles) said, that's the goal here. Take the North, get to the playoffs, get a shot at the Lombardi."
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.