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Thursday, October 17, 2013
Bears rookie linemen staying grounded

By Doug Padilla

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- With the season closing in on the halfway point, the Chicago Bears’ rookie-loaded offensive line has become less and less of a story.

As right tackle Jordan Mills and right guard Kyle Long continue to hold their own, the constant tracking of their progress seems to be less relevant.

“You know we’re just taking it one day at a time, one game at a time, one practice at a time,” Mills said after practice Thursday. “Me and Kyle never pay attention to that. That’s the point of fans and media to give us that hype.”

Jordan Mills, Kyle Long
Chicago rookie offensive linemen Jordan Mills, No. 67, and Kyle Long, No. 75, have earned trust from quarterback Jay Cutler.
Nobody is calling the rookies Pro Bowl-bound just yet, but as experiments go, one that had the potential for total meltdown has instead shown definite promise.

“We’re new to this and sitting back watching, humbled and shocked,” Mills said. “We have kept each other grounded and never let our heads get too big. It’s starting to settle down and get normal and we just want to get better working together, working as an offensive line and working as an offensive team to get this from a good team to a great team.”

Also keeping them grounded is an NFL schedule that offers one unique test after another, with the Washington Redskins the next challenge. On Sunday, the Bears’ young offensive line will see another 3-4 defense (the third the Bears have faced this season), and some third-down blitzes that figure to come from all angles.

It has only helped the Bears that the first 3-4 defense they faced, way back in Week 3, belonged to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It was good because Pittsburgh’s 3-4 is probably one of the greatest 3-4 defenses that ever played and they have one of the greatest defensive coordinators [Dick LeBeau] that has coached,” Mills said. “To see that and go off of that game, they do some things similar. They try to confuse you on third down and any down they can put five bigs in the game. To have that [Steelers] game you can go back and watch because they do similar things.”

Most important when it comes to the growth of the line could be that quarterback Jay Cutler continues to grow more confident in the group that blocks for him.

“They’re playing great,” Cutler said. “I think Kyle gets most of the hype and the attention but Jordan is over there really locking down that side through the first six games of the season. There is a comfort level he gives Kyle. They are a little bit of yin and yang. Kyle is a little more upbeat and Jordan is the calmer of the two. The front five deserves a lot of credit through these first six.”

The encouragement from Cutler is nice, but Mills promises it won’t go to his head.

“Me and Kyle always talk about it, and the veterans talk about not becoming complacent,” Mills said. “Just because you overcome something there is always something bigger coming so you just take it one step at a time and you should be fine.”