CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In certain instances over the past two weeks of training camp, rookie guard Kyle Long has looked every bit the dominant player Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery envisioned when he drafted Long at No. 20 overall, despite the fact he started just five career games at Oregon.
But on other occasions, Long resembles an inexperienced player still working toward refining his technique and overall understanding of how to be a consistent and productive NFL offensive lineman.
A perfect example was during a one-on-one individual pass-rush drill on Wednesday. Speedy defensive lineman Aston Whiteside beat Long with an impressive inside move that forced the rookie right guard to commit an obvious holding penalty as Whiteside zoomed past Long on the way to the quarterback.
But on the very next rep, Long held his ground and stonewalled Whiteside at the line of scrimmage.
Long's mixed bag of results has not discouraged Emery, who re-enforced his belief in their top pick during an appearance on "The Waddle & Silvy" Show on ESPN Chicago 1000.
"We all need reps if we are going to get better at anything we do," Emery said. "He's coming from a background where he didn't have an extensive amount of time at Oregon, and he's getting it now and is fully in. Our coaches are dialed in on him and he certainly wants to improve.
"He has the gifts -- excellent strength, power and balance. It really shows up in the one-on-one pass rush drills in terms of his gifts. The rest of it we expect to come along and he's in a competitive spot, competing with James Brown (at right guard) for a starting job."
Given the way the practice reps have been divided up the last week or so, it would be a surprised if Brown doesn't start at right guard when the Bears kickoff preseason action Friday night against the Carolina Panthers.
But look for Long to enter the game at right guard early in the first half, perhaps with Brown sliding over to the left side to replace veteran Matt Slauson for a series or two. Brown has worked at both guard spots during camp and projects to be the Bears' swing guard if Long is ready to start Week 1 of the regular season.
"It's exciting to go against somebody that isn't on your team," Long said. "We've practiced hard for the last two weeks so this will give us a great chance the go down to Carolina and play some football."