METAIRIE, La. — Ben Grubbs spent only one year playing next to Jermon Bushrod, but that was long enough to learn one thing about the former Saints left tackle.
Bushrod knew exactly what he was doing as well as what everyone else was supposed to do.
“Jermon was a student of the game, watched a lot of film,” Grubbs said. “He knew the offense, knew it well. Not only his part, not only his job, but he knew the job of all the offensive linemen. He played a big part in me being comfortable here.”
Alas, they spent that lone season together because Bushrod went to Chicago after signing a five-year contract worth nearly $7 million a season.
Sunday, at noon, Grubbs and the Saints (4-0) will face Bushrod, along with former line coach Aaron Kromer, for the first time.
It’s not that Bushrod didn’t want to stay – his wife is from the New Orleans area – it’s that the Saints weren’t willing to pay him what the Bears were able to. He understands the business side of the decision, however.
“Sometimes you just have to take the feelings out of it a little bit,” Bushrod said. “It was tough because New Orleans meant a lot to me, still does being that my wife is from there and I won a Super Bowl there. But this is just another opportunity, another opportunity for my family, another opportunity for us and it is a special situation.”
Bushrod was thrust into the starting lineup during training camp in 2009 when Jammal Brown suffered a hip injury in combined practice with the Houston Texans. He never missed a game, starting 64 consecutive regular season games and 70 including the playoffs.
He protected Brees’ blindside and was part of a line that was third-best in the NFL in not allowing sacks in 2012 and among the best since Bushrod began starting.
“Obviously, he was a part of that Super Bowl championship team, and a big part of it at the left tackle position,” Brees said. “He was a mainstay. We all love Bush and wish him the best.”
Already Bushrod’s presence has been well-received in Chicago’s locker room.
“You know his personality; he’s very even-keeled,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He loves the game; he works hard at it every day. He’s all business and he’s just added to what already was a great locker room. He’s just brought more character to it and obviously he understands what it takes to win a championship.”
And again, he said, no hard feelings for the way things ended in New Orleans.
“It ended on good terms and even if it didn’t end on good terms, I’m still appreciative of the opportunity,” Bushrod said. “I am just going out here focusing on this team and doing whatever I can do to get this team a W.”