Chicago Bears: James Brown

Mills, Britton to make preseason debuts?

August, 26, 2014
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears held five players out of their final full practice before Thursday’s preseason finale in Cleveland: safety Ryan Mundy, offensive lineman Brian de la Puente, wide receiver Marquess Wilson, fullback Tony Fiammetta and safety Chris Conte.

Cornerback Isaiah Frey also missed the workout due to a sore hamstring, but Frey and guard James Brown were later waived to trim the Bears’ active roster down to 75 active players before the 3 p.m. CT deadline.

Generally speaking, the first-team plays very little, if at all, in the fourth preseason game.

However, an argument can be made that certain veterans would benefit from some playing time versus the Browns. Among that group is Jordan Mills. A foot injury forced the starting right tackle to miss the first three preseason games. Mills did return to practice on a full-go basis on Monday and probably would relish the opportunity to knock off some of the rust before the regular-season opener against Buffalo.

“That’s a good question,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said regarding Mills’ availability. “He did practice today. I haven’t talked to the trainers about that situation. We really haven’t made any decisions on those types of situations. We’re still working on who is going to play and who is not. But Jordan did practice today, which was a good thing.”

Veteran offensive lineman Eben Britton also practiced on Tuesday and should make his preseason debut in Cleveland, although his roster spot is far from assured. Britton's hamstring injury early in camp opened the door for Michael Ola and Dennis Roland to impress the coaching staff and potentially earn a spot on the final 53-man roster.

Bears draft focus: Offensive tackle

May, 2, 2014
After enduring a pair of first round flops from 2008-10, the Chicago Bears finally solved their offensive tackle problem last offseason when they splashed big money to lure Jermon Bushrod in free agency and drafted Jordan Mills in the fifth round out of Louisiana Tech.

Mills' offseason foot surgery and subsequent rehabilitation could open the door for re-signed veteran guard/tackle Eben Britton to push for the starting job, but the Bears appear to be well-stocked at the top of their tackle depth chart.

But since a team can never have enough quality offensive tackles, the Bears may consider using a draft pick to increase the competition among backups James Brown and Joe Long. Seven-year veteran Jonathan Scott is still available on the open market after his contract expired with the Bears last month.

It is strange, and rather refreshing, to enter a draft without the offensive line being a major need for the Bears. Based on the current roster, it would be a surprise if the Bears took a tackle before the third day of the draft, unless there is significant concern about Mills' health. But by all accounts Mills' recovery is on schedule.

Five potential targets:

1. Justin Britt, Missouri

2. Matt Patchan, Boston College

3. Seantrel Henderson, Miami

4. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, McGill (Canada)

5. Kevin Pamphile, Purdue

The next five: 6. James Hurst, North Carolina; 7. Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State; 8. Kevin Graf, USC; 9. Garrett Scott, Marshall; 10. Parker Graham, Oklahoma State.

Position grade: B
2014 free agents: Roberto Garza, Eben Britton, Jonathan Scott, Taylor Boggs.

The good: With four new faces on the offensive line, the Bears used the same five starters up front for all 16 games last season and were one of just three teams in the NFL (Washington and Philadelphia were the others) to start the same five for the entire season. Garza was the only starter in 2013 returning from the 2012 team, and the right side of the line consisted of two rookie starters in Kyle Long and Jordan Mills, who were the first rookie starters on Chicago’s offensive line on opening day since 1983. The offensive line paved the way for the team to set multiple franchise records on offense, and allowed 30 sacks, which tied for the fourth fewest in the NFL. The 30 sacks were the fewest allowed by the Bears since 2008.

The bad: Despite the improved sack numbers, the argument could be made they were a result of the quarterbacks getting rid of the ball quicker than they had in the past. At Philadelphia, the offensive line gave up five sacks, and on occasion, the group struggled to provide sufficient push in short-yardage situations. After all the punishment Jay Cutler has taken over the years, it’s hard to find much “bad” about the 2013 offensive line. Perhaps the most concerning issue the group will having moving forward is whether the front office will bring back Garza, the quarterback of the offensive line, who is set to become a free agent.

The money (2014 salary-cap numbers): Jermon Bushrod ($7.3 million), Matt Slauson ($2,747,500), Long ($1,886,580), Mills ($536,200), James Brown ($570,000), Gaines Rogers ($420,000), Joe Long ($420,000).

Draft priority: Moderate. Even if the Bears bring back Garza, they’ve got to start thinking about the future of the position, and they can possibly address that with a mid-to-late-round pick. Boggs served as Garza’s primary backup in 2013 as well as the top reserve at left guard. But Boggs is about to hit free agency. So the Bears need to decide whether to bring him back, along with pending free agents Britton and Scott, who have proved to be quality backups capable of starting. Reserve right guard James Brown is entering the final year of his contract as well. So while the starting offensive line for the most part appears set for the next couple of years (starting left guard Matt Slauson recently signed a new deal), the Bears might need to start developing younger players at the backup positions that can eventually become starters.

McClellin inactive again for Bears

November, 17, 2013
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears released their list of inactives in advance of Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, and defensive end Shea McClellin will miss his second-consecutive game due to a pulled hamstring.

Other Bears inactives include quarterback Jay Cutler, linebacker Lance Briggs, long snapper Patrick Mannelly, offensive lineman James Brown, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff.

Ravens inactives include defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, receiver Marlon Brown, safety Omar Brown, running back Bernard Scott, receiver Brandon Stokley, offensive lineman Ryan Jensen and linebacker John Simon.

Long, Mills and Frey impress vs. Raiders

August, 24, 2013
OAKLAND, Calif. -- In the aftermath of Chicago’s 34-26 win Friday over the Oakland Raiders, surely some players long for one last shot to prove their worth, while others may have earned starting jobs that will likely keep them on the sideline for the preseason finale Aug. 29 against the Cleveland Browns.

“That’s a tough question to answer right now,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We’ve got some young players playing very well. We know we’ve got roster issues on all three sides of the ball. We’ll go to work on that as we get back to Chicago when we spend time tomorrow night in our personnel meetings.”

Here’s a look at three players who likely earned starting jobs by virtue of their performance against the Raiders, and three more whose jobs or roster spots may now be on the line:

[+] EnlargeKyle Long
AP Photo/Scott BoehmThe Bears' first-round draft pick, Kyle Long has impressed during the preseason and is poised to earn a starting job.
RG Kyle Long. The club’s first-round pick, Long put together another quality start against the Raiders and, along with fellow rookie Jordan Mills, played a few more repetitions than the rest of the first-team offensive line. As expected of a rookie, Long appeared to miss a couple of assignments on plays where he was supposed to block second-level defenders. But his explosiveness, athleticism and tenacity at the point of attack are undeniable, as is the fact he continues to improve the more he plays.

Because the team made Long the No. 20 overall pick in the draft, his ascension to a starter’s role was inevitable. It’s always that way when first-round money is thrown into the equation. It was also aided by a regressing James Brown, who instead of rising to the challenge posed by Long, seemed to fall behind even more in the competition. Perhaps Brown felt the battle had already been virtually decided after his start on Aug. 9 in the preseason opener at Carolina. After that game, the coaching staff said it wanted to take a look at Long, who has started the past two contests.

RT Jordan Mills. Clearly quarterback Jay Cutler feels comfortable with Mills and Long as his protection on the right side of the line. Like Long, Mills made a couple of minor mistakes over his past two starts, including a false start Friday night in the second quarter. But Mills has kept Cutler clean in pass protection, while proving to be a dominating factor in the running game, which has been encouraging. After all, the Bears selected Mills with a fifth-round pick and it was expected he’d face a steep learning curve because of the differences in the pro game from the pass-happy attack he blocked for in college.

“They played well tonight,” Cutler said of the rookies on the right side of the line. “They get better and better each week. The thing about them is they want to do it. They’re excited about it. It matters to them, and they’re getting better. So I don’t see why [Mills and Long wouldn’t be ready to start in Week 1]."

CB Isaiah Frey. Kelvin Hayden’s season-ending hamstring injury gave Frey a chance to become the starting nickel corner. Still, the second-year veteran needed to earn the spot, which he’s done with consistent performances in practices that have transferred over to games. This may sound like an exaggeration, but really it isn’t. During training camp workouts at Olivet Nazarene University, you’d be hard pressed to find one day in which Frey didn’t make a play -- whether it was an interception or a pass breakup -- that drew attention to him. He played that well. Then, once it was time to play in the preseason, Frey simply duplicated what he’d been doing all along on the practice field.

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Forte endorses rookie right side of line

August, 21, 2013
Matt ForteAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastMatt Forte, who rushed for 74 yards against the Chargers, likes what he has seen from Kyle Long and Jordan Mills.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman said Wednesday "it's safe to say" that the team is set for the regular-season opener at center, left guard and left tackle, with the right guard and tackle spots still up for grabs.

Shortly after, running back Matt Forte gave a strong endorsement to rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills for the starting jobs at right guard and right tackle.

Long and Mills made their first start together on the right side of the line last week against the San Diego Chargers, and will start again Friday when the Bears face the Oakland Raiders. Running behind the duo during a three-play stretch on the goal line in the first quarter, Forte gained 11 yards on three carries and scored a 3-yard touchdown before finishing the game with 74 yards on eight attempts.

"They did a great job," Forte said. "If we can get that push off the ball at the line of scrimmage, I can basically just use my vision in the zone blocking scheme and we'll be fine in the running game. They're doing a good job. I'm really impressed, especially by [sixth-round pick] Jordan [Mills]. I didn't even notice him in OTAs because we didn't have pads on. But he's stepped up during camp and has been doing a great job."

Long and Mills are competing for starting spots against veterans James Brown and J'Marcus Webb at right guard and right tackle, respectively.

The fact that the Bears consider the third preseason game at Oakland on Friday a dress rehearsal for the regular season bodes well for Long and Mills in their bids to start the regular-season opener Sept. 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Emery remains supportive of RG Long

August, 8, 2013
Kyle LongJerry Lai/USA TODAY SportsBears guard Kyle Long might not start Friday but he figures to see plenty of playing time.
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."
Kyle Long Jerry Lai/USA TODAY SportsThe Bears list rookie Kyle Long as a co-starter at right guard on their first depth chart of the preseason.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears released their unofficial depth chart heading into Friday's preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers, and aside from the club designating co-starters at two positions, there weren't any surprises.

At right guard, the team listed James Brown and rookie first-round pick Kyle Long as co-starters. At left end, the club did the same with Corey Wootton and second-year man Shea McClellin, a first-round pick in 2012. It appears Brown and Wootton are set to start in the exhibition opener, provided the latter is healthy, considering the defensive end recently suffered a hip injury.

"I think everybody is (excited) in terms of getting the chance to compete against somebody else besides ourselves," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "And we'll get a chance to take a look at certainly some of the young guys and some of the new guys, and get involved in the competitive process at another level. They'll get a chance to play under the lights against a different team, in a different environment, and that will all be a part of the evaluation."

The Bears listed three players from the 2013 draft class on the second team on defense, including linebackers Jon Bostic and Khaseem Green and defensive end Cornelius Washington, who is listed behind co-starters Wootton and McClellin.

Two more from the draft class -- receiver Marquess Wilson and right tackle Jordan Mills -- are listed on the third team.

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Bears: Kyle Long impressive in full pads

July, 28, 2013
Sunday marked the first day in pads for the Chicago Bears, and by most accounts, rookie offensive lineman Kyle Long made an impression.

Long planted veteran defensive lineman Nate Collins in an early drill, and afterwards Collins made a point to note Long's strength. Several offensive linemen, including left tackle Jermon Bushrod noticed his work as well.

Remember, Long has some extra work to do this summer after NFL/NCAA rules prevented him from participating in most of the Bears' offseason workouts. He is technically competing with James Brown for the right guard job, but most of us expect him to assume that role as soon as he is anywhere close to being ready for it.

Based on reports from Sunday's practice, that time could be coming relatively soon.

Here is an on-site report on Long's day from Jeff Dickerson of

Long gets reps with starting unit

July, 26, 2013
Kyle Long, Stephen PaeaJerry Lai/USA TODAY SportsKyle Long said his goal is to win every rep in practice as he contends for a starting spot.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Kyle Long’s excused absence from the Chicago Bears offseason program as a result of NCAA rules did little to hurt his standing on the team’s depth chart when the team hit the practice field Friday morning for the first official training camp workout.

Long will battle second-year offensive lineman James Brown for the starting right guard job, and while Brown opened practice with the ones, Long was quickly inserted into the rotation and received a substantial amount of starter's reps.

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Road to Bourbonnais: Long's shot at RG

July, 18, 2013
Kyle LongReid Compton/USA TODAY SportsThe Bears have to hope Kyle Long emerges as the clear starter at right guard early in camp.
The only way for an offensive line to achieve chemistry is for the same five guys to line up next to each other on a daily basis. Too often in recent years the Chicago Bears had to make changes up front, either due to injuries or subpar play, which hurt the overall product.

The best course of action for the Bears would be to settle on a starting five on the offensive line early in camp and stick with it. Heading into training camp it would appear that four of the five starting spots have been locked up by newcomers left tackle Bushrod and left guard Matt Slauson and holdovers center Roberto Garza and right tackle J'Marcus Webb.

That leaves one job open -- right guard.

Second-year player James Brown is expected to get the first crack at right guard when camp opens on July 24, but the Bears' ultimate plan is for Long to eventually slide into the starting lineup. Why else would they have drafted him No. 20 overall? To sit on the bench?

Not likely.

But the speed at which Long moves up the depth chart is entirely dependent on his development.

The good news for the Bears is that Long didn't miss a whole lot by being forced by the NCAA to sit out the offseason program. Offensive linemen are judged when the pads are on, not going through non-contact drills in shorts and helmets in organized team activities and minicamps.

If the Bears were on the money with their pre-draft evaluations of Long, the athletic rookie should be in position to overtake Brown in a matter of weeks.

Or perhaps Brown solidifies himself on the right side.

Either way, if the Bears have their offensive line in place by mid-August, they should be in decent shape, given that Aaron Kromer is regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Here are some observations from the Chicago Bears' final minicamp workout of the offseason:

• The Bears wrapped up the three-month long offseason program without their projected two starters at wide receiver ever sharing the field together for an extended period of time. Offseason hip surgery limited four-time Pro Bowl wideout Brandon Marshall to individual work at the end of OTAs last week and one day of minicamp, while a tight hamstring kept Alshon Jeffery off the field Tuesday and Wednesday. Jeffery did return on Thursday but only participated in limited individual drills.

"I think we turned it into a positive," Trestman said. "We got a great look at some of the young guys. They were ready to step in. We had very few, if any, mental errors there. They were running full speed and we were catching the football when we had the opportunity. So it was good for them to get the reps and get the reps against our top players on defense. Those are all good things.

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Gabe CarimiJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesGabe Carimi has opted to stay in Arizona and train rather than take part on Bears OTAs.
Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery took the diplomatic route Wednesday when asked about Gabe Carimi's absence from the team's organized team activities.

Carimi missed OTA sessions on Monday and Tuesday, the first two workouts of 10 league-mandated OTAs, and was the only player on the team eligible to attend who did not.

"This is a voluntary situation, and every player has to make his own decisions," Emery told Sirius XM NFL Radio. "Gabe has made a decision. He wants to stay in Arizona and train. We respect that, and we'll welcome (him) with open arms when he comes back."

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Five areas the Bears need to address

January, 21, 2013
BearsAP Photo/Bill FeigThe offensive line, including Roberto Garza (63) and Chris Spencer (67), struggled to protect Jay Cutler.

With Senior Bowl practices scheduled to get underway this week in Mobile, Ala., let’s take a brief look at certain position groups the Chicago Bears might look to address in the upcoming NFL draft or free agency.

1. Offensive line: Let’s just lump the entire offensive line together since it likely requires a significant amount of work. Here is what we know -- Lance Louis has been at Halas Hall this offseason rehabbing the anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered last November against the Minnesota Vikings. If the Bears are satisfied that Louis is on track to make a full recovery, it stands to reason the club would either re-sign the versatile offensive lineman to a new deal or tag him. It’s unknown whether or not Louis will be ready to return at the beginning of next season, but even if he is forced to miss a small amount of time, the Bears will be much better off with a healthy Louis at right guard at some point in 2013. At his end of the year press conference Bears general manager Phil Emery spoke highly of veteran Jonathan Scott (scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent), who started five of the last six games at right tackle, and former undrafted rookie James Brown, who got his feet wet in the final three games at left guard. Emery also said 33-year old center Roberto Garza was “solid,” but the Bears need to figure out a long-term solution at the position, although Garza does keep himself in excellent physical shape. It’s clear the Bears need to attempt to upgrade one, if not both, of their offensive tackles, and probably find at least one guard. Granted, that’s a ton of work to one area of the team in a single offseason, but after neglecting to address the line last year on the heels of two bad first-round picks at tackle, the Bears find themselves in a tough situation. New Bears head coach Marc Trestman mentioned several times the need to protect quarterback Jay Cutler, which seems to indicate he too views the offensive line as a weak spot that needs to be fixed.

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Stock Watch: Jeffery needs refining

December, 18, 2012
Marshall-Jeffery Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesAlshon Jeffery could benefit from some offseason work with Brandon Marshall.


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Brandon Marshall
1. Brandon Marshall, WR: He led the team in receptions with six, and flashed what should have been an inspiring effort on a 15-yard touchdown in the first half. Eventually, the Green Bay Packers took Marshall out of the game. But afterward, Marshall made a long overdue plea for accountability on offense. While collectively the group probably isn't as talented as Marshall, if they put forth his effort on a week-to-week basis, we wouldn't be discussing the possibility of the Bears possibly missing the postseason.

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