Thursday, March 27, 2014
Long happy to have Allen as teammate
Kyle Long's cellphone alerted him of his team's latest major offseason addition early Wednesday morning, with texts piling up reacting to the news that his Chicago Bears had signed free-agent defensive end Jared Allen.
Among them was a long text from his famous father, Howie Long, the television analyst and Hall of Fame defensive end who was quick to praise the signing of Allen.
"You know when a guy like that who is so well-versed in the NFL and who understands the defensive line position -- he was really fired up -- you know it's a great move," the younger Long said Thursday on the "Carmen & Jurko" show on ESPN Chicago 1000.
The Bears agreed to a four-year deal with Allen, who spent the past six seasons with the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. He has 128.5 career sacks.
Long, a rookie Pro Bowler at right guard last season, said he didn't like having to prepare to face Allen twice last year and now looks forward to learning from him as a teammate.
"What I can take away from Jared as an offensive lineman is his wealth of knowledge at the position and what he knows," Long said. "In conversations with Jared, I'm sure I'll learn a ton, and seeing him go against [left tackle] Jermon Bushrod and against [right tackle] Jordan Mills I'll learn a ton. I'll have my hands full with [defensive tackle] Nate Collins and whoever else they throw in front of me. But Jared Allen being in that locker room, being at the practice field, being in those meetings, you can take so much knowledge from him, and hopefully it all translates to the field."
Allen is the latest addition to a defense that has undergone a massive facelift following a disastrous 2013 season in which it ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and 30th in total defense. Of particular focus in the rebuild conducted by general manager Phil Emery has been the defensive line, which has added Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Israel Idonije, and could be bolstered further if the Bears select a defensive tackle with the 14th pick in the first round of the draft.
"When we lost to Green Bay at the end of the year, we looked around the locker room and said this team is going to look different. Regardless, win or lose, if you win the Super Bowl or you go winless, you're going to look around and say not everybody is going to be here," Long said. "I don't think any of us understood the changes that were going to take place in the following months. It's really the light at the end of the tunnel.
"We've got all these guys coming in and we've got a revamped defense. We're very close offensively, and I think the same can be said defensively. ... Just let Phil do what he does. We all have the utmost faith in him."