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Write Now Blog

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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Long, Mills to start again in Oakland

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 19, 2013 – 6:06 pm

The right side of the Bears’ offensive line will remain intact for at least another week as rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills will start Friday night’s preseason game in Oakland.

With Long at right guard and Mills at right tackle, the Bears scored on four of their first six possessions in the first half of last Thursday night’s 33-28 preseason win over the Chargers.

“The right side of the line, we’ll keep it the same this week,” coach Marc Trestman said Monday. “There were enough good things that happened that we feel like we want to give them another opportunity to go out and play a little bit more against the first group and see what they can do.”

It’s premature to anoint Long and Mills opening day starters. But against the Chargers, both showed Trestman “just what we had seen in tape in college; they were athletic, they were physical.”

“Just overall there was an upside in assignments, physicality and athleticism,” Trestman said. “We’re not ready to pass judgment yet overall. We’re just going to let this thing play itself out. But to be as straightforward as I can, it was a positive experience for our football team to have them out there.

“They kept their poise. They did a lot of good things. They made mistakes as well that we think they can improve on and we’ll see how it goes another week.”


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Garza empathizes with rookie linemen

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 14, 2013 – 11:07 am

It’s been 12 years since Roberto Garza entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick with the Atlanta Falcons, but the veteran center still can empathize with Kyle Long and Jordan Mills.

The two rookie linemen were elevated to the starting unit this week in practice, with Long lining up next to Garza at right guard and Mills replacing J’Marcus Webb at right tackle.

“We’ve all been through learning the offense in training camp and making those rookie mistakes,” Garza said. “We have to learn from our mistakes. Kyle and Jordan are doing a hell of a job of going in there and stepping up and going against the ‘ones’ and making that transition. It’s an evolving process. But those kids are both very talented and have a bright future ahead.”

Garza remembers the challenges he faced when he left Texas A&M-Kingsville to join the Falcons.

“You’re trying to learn the offense, you’re trying to do things the right way, and then you’re going against the best guys in the world,” Garza said. “So there’s not a lot of room for error. As soon as you start to think, the play’s over with. It happens so fast. You want to do it right and you’re trying.

“Sometimes you just don’t do it. You’ve just got to learn from it, not make the same mistakes twice. Sometimes you get so involved in everything you’re doing, you kind of lose control. But definitely these guys are level-headed and doing a great job of letting the play go and going onto the next.”

Long and Mills have both praised Garza for the help he has provided them. The 12-year NFL veteran feels that it’s his duty to assist young players.

“When I first [joined the Bears], I was in my fifth year and I had Olin [Kreutz], Ruben [Brown], Fred [Miller] and John Tait,” Garza said. “I had guys that had started in the NFL for a very long time. They took me under their wing and taught me a lot of things, so now I feel it’s my turn to share all the knowledge that they passed on to me; how to do things, how to work, how to learn, how to study, and how to bring your best out when it’s needed.”


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