Bronco Beat

Boise State in the NFC North: Charles Leno in vital year as Bears’ starter

Chicago Bears tackle Charles Leno (72) prepares to block Denver Broncos linebacker Kasim Edebali in 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Chicago Bears tackle Charles Leno (72) prepares to block Denver Broncos linebacker Kasim Edebali in 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Charles Leno was known around Boise State for being nimble despite his offensive tackle build, and he’s shown it for the Chicago Bears the last three seasons as a seventh-round pick.

Now, Leno finds himself in a very intriguing spot: He’s in the last year of his rookie contract after starting 29 games at left tackle the past two seasons. He’s shown flashes of being worthy of a hefty contract at the vital position, but hasn’t been consistently dominant.

“Last year of the contract. Came out here excited,” Leno told Adam Hoge of WGN Radio. “Of course I want to be here in Chicago, but now I’m just excited. I just want to make sure I put the tape out there so I let everyone know I’m here to stay. I’m here to be the Chicago Bears’ left tackle for a long time.”

Last season, the 6-foot-3, 306-pound Leno was the only Bear to play every offensive snap. Chicago drafted quarterback North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick, so if Leno performs well, he could be tasked with protecting the team’s investment for some time.

Pro Football Focus graded him below average in pass and rush blocking, but his athleticism has still enticed the Bears.

“Charles Leno is one of the most athletic guys that’s been around here,” left guard Kyle Long said.

In the Bears’ preseason opener, Leno was beat off the edge, and as a Denver pass rusher closed on quarterback Mike Glennon, the pass was way off target, leading to an interception return for a touchdown.

Next preseason game: at Cardinals, 8 p.m. Saturday

▪ SAM MCCASKILL, DE, VIKINGS: After finishing his Boise State career with a team-high 14 tackles for loss as a senior, McCaskill signed with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent. He faces a difficult road in making the roster. He was listed fourth at one defensive end spot on the initial depth chart, and now is not even on it. He did not register any stats in the Vikings’ preseason opener Thursday against the Bills.

Next preseason game: at Seahawks, 8 p.m. Friday

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Monday, we started our tour around NFL training camps with former Boise State standouts with the NFC East. Tomorrow, the NFC South.

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