"One of the best role models I ever had," Leno said of Bushrod after OTAs last week. "I miss the guy, but you know it's a business, and that's how it goes. Just one of the best professionals I've ever been around. He showed me the ropes and I still, to this day, thank him."

The Bears had the opportunity to select a tackle in the draft in late April, including projected first overall pick Laremy Tunsil -- who dramatically fell down the draft when a video of him smoking from a gas mask went viral on his own Twitter -- but they passed. In fact, they passed on tackles all throughout the draft.

Last season gave Leno the confidence to grow. He wasn't comfortable at right tackle, but left tackle was his more natural position. He was comfortable in the movements on the left side in a way he wasn't at right tackle.

Leno became a competent fit at left tackle. He believes that better days are ahead.

"I know if I'm confident in my technical abilities — which I am, and I'm still growing — I know I can play against anybody," Leno said.

During this busy offseason, the Bears cut Bushrod and signed right tackle Bobby Massie, which moved Long back to his more comfortable placement at right guard. They also signed guards Ted Larsen and Manny Ramirez, drafted guard Cody Whitehair out of Kansas State with their second-round pick and then made the stunning cut of Matt Slauson.

Leno remains in place at left tackle, with the Bears illustrating their confidence in the young player.

"They believed in me," Leno said, "so now I've got to repay them."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago's sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.