2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Bears' Long, Mills face big test right from start

    2013-09-06 02:32

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - Kyle Long and Jordan Mills could be in for a rude welcome to the NFL. Then again, the rookies are no strangers to top defenses.

They practice against one, and they'll be staring at another when the Chicago Bears open the season against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Long insists he's ready for Geno Atkins.

``It will be a good opportunity,'' he said. ``Luckily we have great guys we practice against every day and it gets us ready to go for Sundays.''

The Bears made big moves after winning 10 games but missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years, starting with the firing of Lovie Smith. They brought in Marc Trestman hoping he could help quarterback Jay Cutler reach his potential and inject some life into the offense. Much of that hinges on how an overhauled offensive line comes together.

General manager Phil Emery ripped up a group that ranked among the league's worst in recent years and decided to start over, leaving center Roberto Garza as the only returning starter.

He signed Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod away from New Orleans and guard Matt Slauson from the New York Jets, giving Chicago two veterans on the left side of the line. On the right side, the Bears are going young - very young.

Is that a cause for concern? Mills said no and the reason is the veterans on the line.

``They keep us grounded,'' he said. ``When we want to go full speed ahead, we have them there to take us down and tell us, `Be patient, let the game come to you.'''

They're starting a fifth-round pick at tackle in Mills after he beat out the departed J'Marcus Webb, and are going with Long at guard after taking him in the first round despite his limited experience in college. A star pitcher in high school who was drafted by the Chicago White Sox, he went to Florida State on a baseball scholarship only to be forced out because of academic issues.

He also spent a night in jail because of a DUI and went to junior college before he ultimately emerged as a key figure in Chip Kelly's fast offense during his lone season at Oregon last year. He only made five starts, but the Bears believe he has the physical tools to succeed, not to mention the pedigree as the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long.

Kyle Long and Mills are also facing quite a test right from the start.

The Bengals set A franchise record with 51 sacks last season - 12 1/2 by tackle Atkins and 11 1/2 by defensive end Michael Johnson. That would be a test for any offensive line, let alone one with two new players on the right side.

The last time the Bears had two rookies start the opener on the offensive line was in 1983 with Jim Covert at left tackle and Rob Fada at left guard. Long will be Chicago's first rookie to start the opener at right guard in the Super Bowl era.

``That's really good trivia and everything,'' he said. ``It's a good tidbit to know.''

But his focus is on something bigger, far more important. It's about creating holes for Matt Forte and bringing an end to the days of Cutler serving as a human tackling dummy. The Bears are going with a West Coast offense, getting the ball out of Cutler's hands quicker. That should help cut down on the number of sacks, but the line still has to do its job.

The rookies will have to be quick studies.

``They're rookies so you know everything's not going to be perfect, but at the end of the day, they're willing to work,'' Bushrod said. ``They're willing to work hard. They're putting the work in in the classroom. They just want to get better. As long as you've got them there, you have them in that mindset, the rest will take care of itself.''

NOTES: Trestman insisted he hasn't decided if D.J. Williams or rookie Jonathan Bostic will start at middle linebacker. Williams sat out the preseason with a calf injury while Bostic impressed in his absence. Trestman would not commit to WR Earl Bennett, who's returning from a concussion, playing in the opener, either.

---

Online: AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org/

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) continues through the concussion protocol this week, but head coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates Gore suiting up in Week 16 against the San [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 18 05:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Dec. 18.

Blake BortlesDec 18 04:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has earned positive reviews from the team in his rookie season after being thrust into the spotlight early this year. 'That is not the [ More ]

Jay CutlerDec 18 04:12p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler was benched just for this week against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler will be active and serve as the [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsDec 18 04:02p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (hand) will be fitted cast that he can play with on his injured hand. Williams still has not caught a pass with the injured [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 04:02p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) has not been able to do any running this week, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.

Ryan MathewsDec 18 03:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and appears to be on track to start in Week 16, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

DeMarco MurrayDec 18 02:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand), who was expected to take some team snaps in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, is in no more risk if he plays in Week [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:12p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) said he is not dealing with any pain in his back but is taking things one day at a time. Newton said he [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 02:02p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) left practice early Thursday, Dec. 18, because he is receiving a scheduled day of rest. Manning was not limping when he was walking to the locker room.

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Chris PolkDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 01:22p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) had an increased set of repetitions in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and it looks like he's on track to play in Week 16 [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 12:52p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Andre JohnsonDec 18 12:52p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson (concussion) has cleared the leagues concussion protocol and will play in the team's Week 16 game.

Julio JonesDec 18 12:12p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Case KeenumDec 18 10:03a

Houston Texans QB Case Keenum is expected to start in Week 16.

Philip RiversDec 18 09:22a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is battling a back injury that is more severe than the team has acknowledged, according to a league source. Rivers' back injury [ More ]

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:03a

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy opened practice on the sidelines Wednesday, Dec. 17, while RB Chris Polk opened with first-team reps. After practice McCoy did not seem too concerned. [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanDec 18 01:03a

The Denver Broncos are hopeful RB Ronnie Hillman (foot) will be able to return for the Week 16 game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, Dec. 22, or for the [ More ]

Drew StantonDec 17 07:33p

Arizona Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee) said this injury is different from any other he's ever had, and he said it's too soon to know if he could return [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 07:03p

San Francisco 49ers RBs Frank Gore (concussion) and Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Jay CutlerDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Jimmy ClausenDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group