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Teammates believe in rookie linemen

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 4, 2013 – 5:01 pm

Right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Jordan Mills are set to become the first pair of Bears rookie offensive linemen to start a season opener since 1983. But teammates who’ve worked closely with the two draft picks since the spring no longer view them as rookies.

“I don’t really think about it anymore,” said tight end Martellus Bennett. “They played there the whole [preseason]. I mean, the first day I thought about it. But then Day 2, I didn’t think as much about it, and Day 3 I didn’t think as much about it. It’s like Week 8 now with them out there so I really don’t think about it as much. I think they’re doing a great job.”

Veteran center Roberto Garza has been most impressed with the duo’s willingness to learn.

“They’re just eager to pick things up, and they want to go over things over and over again until we get it right,” Garza said in advance of Sunday’s opener against the Bengals at Soldier Field. “Both guys are very talented, and I’m looking forward to seeing them on Sunday.”

Garza isn’t worried about Long and Mills being overwhelmed by pre-game jitters.

“The entire line will be working together, so it’s all our jobs to keep everybody on the same page,” Garza said. “It’s the first game for everybody. I know the left side played a couple more games, but it’s the first game of the season and everybody is going to get the pregame jitters. So we’re all going to be talking every play and trying to get everybody on the same page.”

Garza told reporters that he’s not surprised the two rookies earned starting jobs.

“You see the guys play,” Garza said. “The guys are doing a hell of a job when they get opportunities. This league is about opportunities, and they took advantage of it and they proved themselves. Now it’s time to go out there and do it play-after-play.

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