Chicago Bears: Jordan Mills

Overview: Rising second-year right tackle Jordan Mills believes the Bears are “very close” to fielding a Super Bowl offense, and that is not merely overconfidence. Because in the next breath, Mills is quick to say there is "not one thing I do great or good enough that I don’t need to work on." He constantly asks, "What can I do to become a great player, a great teammate and help this team?"

Bushrod
Mills
That attitude, it seems, has become contagious for the entire offense, not just the offensive line and could serve the team well in its quest to improve upon last season. Obviously, one major component in the offense’s improvement came as the result of better protection provided by Mills and left tackle Jermon Bushrod.

In 2013, quarterback Jay Cutler suffered the fewest sacks of his tenure with the Chicago Bears.

With Busrod and Mills penciled in once again as the starters at tackle for 2014, the hopes is the sack numbers will drop even more.

"We’re gonna be tested," Mills said.

Battle to watch: Credit general manager Phil Emery for stocking the roster with so much depth at offensive tackle from the top of the depth chart to the bottom. It is expected that Eben Britton will seize the top backup role on the right side, but the left side is up for grabs now that Jonathan Scott is no longer with the team. Seventh-round pick Charles Leno Jr. could find himself battling with Joe Long, Michael Ola and perhaps James Brown for that spot. The runner-up in that battle could wind up still making the roster as a backup.

Dark horse: Britton finally feels completely healthy after an injury-plagued start to his career in Jacksonville, and it showed last season when he was given opportunities to play. Britton served as the second tight end in some formations, but also received time on the line in various situations. The club likes Mills, and believes he has a bright future as the starting right tackle. But if Mills is slowed in his recovery from a broken foot during training camp, there is a chance Britton could seriously contend for a starting spot.

Who makes the cut: Bushrod, Britton and Mills, would appear to be locks to make the team. Long and Leno could wind up with the final two spots, but remember that Ola has experience with Trestman as the two worked together with the Montreal Alouettes.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Third-round draft choice Will Sutton practiced on Thursday after being excused the previous two days for what he called "a family emergency".

Sutton never went into specific details about the matter but said "everything is good now" when asked if the situation had been resolved.

"I talked it over with the coaches and they let me go," Sutton said. "They said to take as time as I need but I'm here today."

Sutton felt he performed fine on Thursday despite missing the first two days of the club's mandatory minicamp, but the Arizona State product revealed that he plans to return home in the weeks leading up to training camp to ensure that he keeps himself in top physical shape. Sutton gained weight his final year with the Sun Devils that caused his production and draft stock to dip.

He is currently listed at 6-foot, 303 pounds on the Bears' official offseason roster.

"I'm just going to go back to Arizona and train," Sutton said. "It's going to be hot. It's going to be hot.

"My weight isn't a problem. I put on the weight [last year] because I was told to. It's not a problem. It's not that I'm lazy and don't work out."

Speaking of working out, the Bears don't necessarily view the five week gap between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp as a vacation. Bears head coach Marc Trestman delivered that message to his team at their final meeting before the players left the building Thursday afternoon. Apparently, Trestman's speech resonated within the locker room.

"There's no real time to rest," Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. "You might take your weekends off, but for five days a week you need to get ready for training camp. It's not time to take off."

Kicker Robbie Gould added: "The time to take vacations is in January."

The Bears are set to report to training camp on July 24 on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

• Teams can learn a lot about themselves over the course of an eight-week NFL offseason program.

But can you actually tell if a team will be good in the regular season based on OTAs and minicamp?

"No, you really can't tell," Bears Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings said. "All you can tell is where your team is at. You don't know where you are going to rank, but you know what you have at this moment."

• The Bears clearly like that they have seen from rookie safety Brock Vereen. He took all the first-team reps alongside Ryan Mundy throughout the entire minicamp, but the organization is not ready to anoint Vereen a starter.

• Trestman described undrafted rookie free agent Jordan Lynch as being in the mix for a reserve role in the Bears' offensive backfield.

"We have a logjam from two through five [on the running back depth chart]. Jordan is in that logjam. A lot of that will be balanced out with special teams. I'm looking forward to seeing him in pads with the rest of the younger guys.

"Jordan is doing well."

• Safety Chris Conte was excused for a third straight day due to an illness that the Bears were concerned could be contagious, according to Trestman. However, the bulk of the roster was present on the final day of minicamp, although right tackle Jordan Mills, right guard Kyle Long, cornerback Sherrick McManis and Matt Slauson did not participate.

• Safety Craig Steltz went through individual drills for the third straight day while wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had full participation after he rested on Wednesday.

Observations: Bears to trim a QB?

June, 17, 2014
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jordan Palmer's return from a minor strain to his right throwing shoulder did little to clear up the Bears' fuzzy picture at the backup quarterback position.

Limited by the injury the last two weeks of organized team activities (OTAs), Palmer had full participation in the Bears' first of three mandatory minicamp workouts held on Tuesday, but he seemed to struggle with his accuracy at times, although Palmer reported no issues with his shoulder when he spoke with reporters after the practice.

"I felt great," Palmer said. "It was good to be back in the mix. I thought we had a pretty good practice today. [There wasn't] too much [rust]. It's still football. We're still wearing shorts and T-shirts, but it was good to be back out there with the guys."

[+] EnlargeJimmy Clausen
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhWith the addition of Jimmy Clausen, the Bears now have quarterbacks under contract.
Meantime, newcomer Jimmy Clausen made the most of his limited reps, and even spent the end of practice occasionally working in with Palmer and starter Jay Cutler, while developmental quarterbacks David Fales and Jerrod Johnson took turns running the scout team offense on the other side of the field.

Clausen signed a one-year deal with the Bears on June 7.

"I watched Jimmy when he was at Notre Dame," Cutler said. "Liked him. He was in a tough situation out there in Carolina. Offensive line was pretty rough; he was getting hit a lot. The system turned over on him. He throws the ball well. I didn't have any input on bringing him here, though. Once he did get here, though, he was in the quarterback room over the weekend three straight days grinding way, trying to figure out this offense. He was peppering me and David Fales, [quarterbacks coach] Matt Cavanaugh, all questions. So he's been working hard. I think he likes the opportunity he has here. He's a little bit humbled going through the experience of being on the streets and getting picked up again. He's got a good attitude. Training camp and preseason, we'll see how it works out."

Clausen's first task is sticking on the roster long enough to report to training camp with the club on July 24. But the odds of that happening seem promising. However, with five quarterbacks currently under contract, the Bears are likely to jettison at least one reserve quarterback in the coming weeks.

"I don't know if that's ever happened [going to camp with five quarterbacks], not in the times I've coached the position," Bears head coach Marc Trestman said. "These next two days are certainly critical; we've got to continue to analyze the situation. It would be hard to, we need legs at camp, but we'll see. We'll make that decision, and we don't even have to make that decision this week, we'll make it before the start of training camp. I think we've got five viable guys. You take Jay out of it and we've got four guys that are really competing hard and all have the requisite skill set to play in the National Football League, we've just got to continue to watch it and see how it unfolds."

Here are other observations from the Bears' opening minicamp practice:

• The Bears rested starting right tackle Jordan Mills (foot) after the second-year offensive lineman returned from offseason surgery in May to participate in OTAs. Mills called his absence "precautionary," but wasn't sure if he'd practice on Wednesday or Thursday before the team breaks for the summer.

"It's just a little precaution, nothing major," Mills said. "I'm 100 percent. I was kind of mad I couldn't go out there and practice today with them but the trainers know best. They just wanted to rest my foot a little bit.

• Safety Chris Conte, linebacker Khaseem Greene and defensive tackle Will Sutton were all excused for "family reasons" according to Trestman. Matt Slauson (shoulder) was present but continued to sit out. Safety Craig Steltz took part in certain individual drills as he recovers from an offseason leg issue.

• Veteran Kelvin Hayden was the Bears' fourth cornerback when the team went to its dime package on defense.

• Trestman called D.J. Williams "the lead dog" at middle linebacker, but 2013 second-round pick Jon Bostic took reps with the first team at linebacker in the nickel package, and could definitely still challenge for the open outside linebacker spot if Williams manages to stay healthy and solidifies the middle in the club's base defense.

• Safety Ryan Mundy dropped an easy pick when a Cutler pass sailed off its mark close to the right hash.

• Linebackers Jerry Franklin and Christian Jones saw action with the No. 2 group. Jones, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Florida State, has opened some eyes in the offseason program.

• With Mills out, Michael Ola spent time at right tackle with the starters. Brian de la Puente continued to take reps at left guard.

• Converted running back Jordan Lynch ran a wheel route out of the backfield and caught a diving touchdown pass from Johnson late in the session.

• Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller broke up a pair of passes in team drills.

• Brandon Marshall burned Tim Jennings for a long touchdown reception. On the play, the Bears had speedster Chris Williams lined up in the slot.

• The Bears invited numerous NFL player agents to Halas Hall on Tuesday to watch practice inside the Walter Payton Center. Agents are frequently spotted catching up with their clients at training camp, but rarely are large groups of agents permitted to observe a workout held at the team's facility.

Observations: Scuffle breaks out

June, 3, 2014
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A brief skirmish broke out at Tuesday's organized team activity during a team drill between members of the Chicago Bears' starting offense and defense. Involved in the short-lived fracas was defensive end Lamarr Houston, right tackle Jordan Mills, tight end Martellus Bennett and defensive end Jared Allen.

Teammates quickly intervened to end the fight, but not before Bennett slammed his own helmet to the ground in frustration.

[+] EnlargeAlshon Jeffery
Nam Y. Huh/AP PhotoChicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had some outstanding catches during Tuesday's organized team activities in Lake Forest, Illinois.
"We are just competing,” Houston said afterward. "This is a competitive sport. That's the atmosphere Coach Trestman wants. We are competing every day to get better. Sometimes people get heated, but all we are doing is competing out there. It's exciting out there. It's a competitive atmosphere. We're having fun in practice.

"That's football. We just go back to the next play and keep working. It's nothing personal. Marty is a good guy. He's a good friend of mine. I'm going to go in there with him after this. Everything is all good.”

Bennett later tweeted: "I go hard every [expletive] day. No doubt about that. Not a single ounce of [expletive] in me.”

Here are several other observations from Tuesday's voluntary session:

• Former New Orleans Saints center Brian De La Puente split reps with Eben Britton at left guard with starter Matt Slauson sidelined due to a shoulder injury.

• Middle linebacker D.J. Williams worked out in front of the media for the first time in the offseason. Williams was absent from last Tuesday's open OTA, but did participate in practices later in the week that were closed to the media.

Charles Tillman's absence on Tuesday opened the door for veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden to receive a look on the first team at cornerback in the base defense and in the nickel package. Hayden missed the entire 2013 regular season after tearing his hamstring in training camp. Rookie first-round pick Kyle Fuller still worked with the starters in nickel when Tim Jennings bumped inside to cover the slot.

• Hall of Famer Mike Ditka watched Tuesday's workout from the sidelines in Lake Forest. Ditka addressed the team last year following a practice at Halas Hall, and had his number retired by the Bears during halftime of the team's Monday night Dec. 9 game versus the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field.

• Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery flashed his strong hands when he went up and snagged a red-zone pass over Jennings.

• Safeties Ryan Mundy and Brock Vereen had blanket coverage on Brandon Marshall on a deep Jay Cutler ball down the middle of the field. The pass fell incomplete.

• Rookie David Fales and second-year quarterback Jerrod Johnson received extra reps in team drills as No. 2 QB Jordan Palmer took a backseat to allow the young quarterbacks to get extended looks.

Bears pick Ka'Deem Carey in 4th

May, 10, 2014
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videoLAKE FOREST, Ill. – The pick: Ka’Deem Carey, running back, Arizona

My take: General manager Phil Emery said before the draft the Bears planned to add more competition at running back behind starter Matt Forte after the team released veteran Michael Bush in March. Carey rushed for 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns over the last two years at Arizona. His 1,885 yards on the ground last season ranked third nationally.

[+] EnlargeKa'Deem Carey
Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsArizona's Ka'Deem Carey rushed for 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns over the last two years at Arizona.
Tailbacks in Marc Trestman’s offense must have the ability to catch the football. Carey hauled in 26 passes for 173 yards and one touchdown in 2013.

Carey set the Pac-12 and Arizona single-game record with 366 rushing yards versus Colorado.

This appears to be a sold pick from a production standpoint.

Character concern: Carey reportedly had issues off-the-field in college. The running back was charged with disorderly conduct and assault for allegedly pushing his pregnant ex-girlfriend to the floor and slamming her hand in a door. The charges were eventually dropped. These are serious accusations.

Under Emery, the Bears have not been afraid to draft players with questionable character. The belief is that sufficient leadership and stability exists in the building to handle potential problem players.

Carey will be afforded every opportunity to prove he is not a clone of 2012 fourth-round pick Evan Rodriguez, who the Bears released after his rookie year following multiple run-ins with the law. Rodriguez also had problems throughout his college career.

What’s next: Bears next pick is at No. 156 overall in the 5th round. The Bears are a prime example that quality players can be found on the third day of the draft. Chicago struck gold in the fifth round last year when they selected offensive tackle Jordan Mills out of Louisiana Tech. Mills went on to start all 16 games before breaking his foot in pregame warm-ups before the Bears’ Week 17 battle at Soldier Field.

Retired wide receiver Johnny Knox, New York Giants cornerback Zack Bowman and Buffalo Bills cornerback Corey Graham are also former fifth-round picks of the Bears who went on to have productive NFL careers.

The Bears could look to add a linebacker or safety with their next choice. Both remain areas of need.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Bears right tackle Jordan Mills said on Tuesday he is almost fully recovered from the offseason surgery he underwent to fix the fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot, and he expects to receive medical clearance to return to the field when the club begins organized team activities (OTAs) later in the spring.

“My foot’s doing good,” Mills said after being honored as the Bears' 2013 rookie recipient of the Brian Piccolo Award.

“The training staff’s been doing great ever since it was broken and I was having surgery. They kept me upright and my head on straight and got after it. It’s going to be a good spring and OTAs and getting ready for camp and the season. I’m doing everything, lifting weights, running around a little bit, doing some light jogging. They don’t want me to go full speed yet until we start OTAs, but right now I’m doing everything everybody’s doing in the weight room, cardio, and when OTAs kick off, I’ll be full speed.”

Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer revealed on Tuesday that Mills actually fractured his foot during pregame warm-ups before the Bears’ NFC North-deciding game versus the Green Bay Packers in Week 17. Mills, the Bears' 2013 fifth-round draft choice out of Louisiana Tech, was a fixture in the starting lineup his entire rookie season, but had to leave the Packers game after the opening series.

“Warming up before we even put pads on, I felt a little pop but I didn’t pay any attention to it,” Mills said. “My adrenalin was pumping anyway, pivotal game for going to the playoffs, so I wasn’t really paying attention to it. But when I went on the field it became numb and I couldn’t walk on it. [Reserve] Eben Britton did an excellent, excellent job of coming in and playing. I was in the locker room just losing my mind with the fact that I wasn’t out there with my brothers trying to get the win.”

Bears coach Marc Trestman envisions a bright future for Mills in Chicago.

“He’s an example for how to do things,” Trestman said. “The first guy to practice every day is Jordan Mills. He’s not just out there first, he’s out there by a long shot. He’s getting himself ready. I’ve asked him how he does it and I know he gives credit to his family, the way he was raised and the environment he was raised under. He does everything as if he’s walking like a champion every day. He’s early to meetings, he’s well-prepared, he’s humble, he listens. He does a lot of the things and never feels like he knows it all.

“He’s always willing to learn, so he’s a great example for all of us.”

McCown, Mills win Piccolo Award

May, 6, 2014
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Bears honored quarterback Josh McCown and right tackle Jordan Mills as the 2013 Brian Piccolo Award winners at a news conference at Halas Hall on Tuesday.

The Piccolo Award is voted on by Bears players, who select a teammate they feel best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, dedication and sense of humor of late Bears running back Brian Piccolo, who died in 1970 at the age of 26 from embryonal cell carcinoma.

A Bears rookie has won the award every season since its inception in 1970. In 1992, the award was expanded to include a veteran player, as well.

McCown, who signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, was not present at the awards ceremony. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler accepted the honor on McCown’s behalf.

“It’s impossible to replace a person like Josh McCown,” Cutler said. “I couldn’t be happier for him in his next journey down in Tampa. There isn’t a more deserving player in the league this past year than Josh McCown. [He played] 13 seasons on seven or eight different teams with just as many offensive coordinators and new playbooks each and every year, so to get this opportunity near the end of his career is very deserving for him.

“My only regret is that I would have met him earlier in life.”

McCown had a breakout year for the Bears in 2013 when he completed 149 of 224 pass attempts for 1,829 yards, 13 touchdowns and one interception. His 109.0 passer rating was the third-highest in the NFL.

Beyond the numbers, Cutler lauded McCown for the veteran’s ability to connect with teammates from all backgrounds and age groups.

“It’s rare to find a teammate that makes you not only a better player, but also a better person,” Cutler said.

Mills started all 16 games for the Bears at right tackle after the club selected him in the fifth round out of Louisiana Tech. Mills actually broke his foot during pregame warm-ups before the Bears' critical Week 17 matchup versus the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field, but tried to play through the pain before leaving the game following the opening series.

“That’s the kind of courage Jordan exemplifies,” Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “That’s why the team chose him. He’s a great teammate. He plays next to another rookie, Kyle Long, and those two rookies working together, with his calmness and Kyle’s craziness, had a lot of success. It just shows the humor that can keep that thing together when you are a rookie.

“Jordan showed a lot of dedication to come from small-town Louisiana, to go through Louisiana Tech, to become a fifth-round pick, and then be a starter as a rookie.”
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

Reviewing the Bears' drafts: 2013

April, 18, 2014
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Here is Part 5 of our series reviewing the past five drafts of the Chicago Bears.

With one full-season under his belt, general manager Phil Emery took on the task of rebuilding the offensive line, while inserting youth into an aging defense that would be playing under a new head coach for the first time since 2004.

First-round pick: Kyle Long, OG, Oregon

Number of picks: 6

How they did: Above average. Four of the six members of the 2013 draft class cracked the starting lineup last season, with Long and fifth-round choice Jordan Mills starting all 16 regular-season games. Bostic was thrown into the fire after veteran middle linebacker D.J. Williams suffered a season-ending injury, and Greene had the unenviable task of attempting to replace perennial Pro Bowl weakside linebacker Lance Briggs, who missed seven games because of a shoulder issue. Seventh-rounder Marquess Wilson played sparingly as a rookie, but is expected to have a much larger role in the offense as the No. 3 wide receiver in 2014. Cornelius Washington, a sixth-round defensive end out of Georgia, spent the bulk of the season on the inactive list.

[+] EnlargeKyle Long
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesKyle Long showed leadership qualities as a rookie.
Pivotal pick: Long. The Bears switched out four of their five starting offensive linemen from 2012 to 2013. Though the club signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod and left guard Matt Slauson (a pair of excellent free-agent pickups) before the draft, it was critical for the organization to hit on a first-round offensive lineman after missing on Chris Williams (2008) and Gabe Carimi (2011). Another failure on the offensive line in the first round would have forced the Bears to spend more money in free agency or re-draft the position again entirely. That will not have to happen unless Long suffers some kind of injury. He should be a fixture on the Bears’ offensive line for 10 years, at least. Plus, his athleticism and intelligence could allow him to change positions in the future if the Bears deem it necessary.

Best pick: Long. When respected team captain and veteran center Roberto Garza calls it quits, Long will take over the leadership of the offensive line and be one of the key voices in the locker room. Although Long prefers not to talk about himself, he has a commanding presence that cannot be ignored. But what makes this such a great pick is that Long was a relative unknown coming out of Oregon, where he started just a handful of games. It takes guts to select a player at No. 20 overall who played only one year of major college football. Yet, the Bears did their homework, stood by their convictions, and were rewarded with likely the club’s best first-round pick since Tommie Harris in 2004.

Worst pick: Washington. But to be fair, he’s only been in the NFL for one season. There is a chance he improves his technique in the offseason and learns how to use his 6-foot-4 frame to his advantage. Washington never really had a permanent position at Georgia, so he is considered raw. Obviously, the Bears did not feel comfortable enough to use Washington last season as a rookie even though the club badly needed help up front on the defensive line. With the additions of Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Israel Idonije, it will be tough for Washington to make an impact, or even to make the team in 2014. But it’s never wise to give up on a young player after just one season. Let’s see how it plays out for Washington when the team officially begins its offseason program on April 22.
The Bears have agreed to terms with offensive tackle Eben Britton on a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday.

Britton
Britton
The veteran appeared in 13 games for the Bears in 2013, starting four of them as a sixth eligible lineman. Bears head coach Marc Trestman identified Britton in training camp last summer as a player he expected to be active and contribute on game day. Britton did not disappoint and meshed well with the rest of the Bears’ offensive line on and off the field.

Britton started 30 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2009 to '12, making 23 starts at right tackle and seven starts at left guard. Jacksonville drafted Britton out of Arizona in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft.

The 6-foot-6, 308-pound Britton could be in line to receive extended time with the first team at right tackle in the offseason as Jordan Mills recovers from January foot surgery.

Rookie review: RT Jordan Mills

February, 6, 2014
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Stats: Selected by the Bears in the fifth-round of the 2013 NFL draft out of Louisiana Tech, Mills started all 16 games at right tackle before leaving the regular-season finale against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter with a foot injury that required offseason surgery. Mills was part of a revamped Bears offensive line that surrendered 30 sacks (the Bears surrendered 44 sacks in 2012) and helped pave the way for Matt Forte to run for a career-high 1,339 yards and nine touchdowns.

2013 role: Mills stood out on draft weekend when he enthusiastically declared that he expected to contribute as a rookie. He began training camp behind veteran J’Marcus Webb at right tackle, but in a short period of time he moved past Webb on the depth chart. Mills never looked back while the Bears eventually cut Webb at the end of the preseason. Mills fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in Week 17 and underwent surgery in January. If his rehab goes as expected, Mills should return to the field during OTAs sometime in May.

The good: Mills is friendly, outgoing and professional off the field, but he plays with a nasty streak. Mills got into it with Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen after the whistle in a game the Bears eventually lost in overtime in the Metrodome. Why does that matter? Because in three full seasons, Webb never went at anybody like that, not even Allen, who certainly had it coming after he ended ex-Bears guard Lance Louis’ season in 2012 with a cheap shot to the knees on a blindside block following an interception. Mills cares. He takes it personal. That's the type of attitude the Bears want from their offensive linemen. Mills never played himself out of the starting lineup. That’s important to note when evaluating his rookie season. It’s not as if the Bears struggled on offense. They ranked sixth in points scored per game (24.8) and eighth in total offense (381.8). If Mills had been a liability at right tackle, he would have been replaced.

The bad: Mills certainly wasn’t flawless. He made his share of mistakes. Several websites rated him as the Bears' worst offensive lineman in 2013. Some of those struggles can be attributed to the fact that Mills started all 16 games as a rookie. He also experienced a large jump in competition, going from a WAC school (Louisiana Tech) to the NFL. Mills definitely needs to work on his body and hit the weight room. Unfortunately, that kind of offseason work will have to wait until Mills recovers from the foot surgery. That is disappointing.

Looking ahead: Mills would really benefit from being able to participate in some of the offseason program before the team breaks until the beginning of training camp. If Mills can be physically ready to go when the club reports to Bourbonnais, Ill., in late July, there is no reason he cannot start the entire upcoming season at right tackle. Mills also gives the Bears the flexibility to move him to guard in the future, if the organization ultimately decides that Kyle Long’s immense talents are better suited at tackle. But at this point, Mills appears to have been a solid selection by the Bears in the fifth round, easily the club’s best fifth-round choice since Johnny Knox in 2009.
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.
Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery revealed Thursday that right tackle Jordan Mills suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot, and after further evaluation the rookie underwent surgery Friday morning, according to a league source.

"I know he still has to have some further evaluation, and that's just where we're at,” Emery said when asked whether Mills would miss any of the team's upcoming offseason conditioning program.

At this point, it is expected that Mills will be able to participate when the Bears convene at Halas Hall during the third week of April to start the offseason program. A rookie fifth-round pick, Mills suffered the injury during the first quarter of Sunday's season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Interestingly, Mills didn't suffer the injury while actually playing. Mills told ESPN.com he hurt the foot while going from the sideline into the game and played three snaps before being declared out.

Mills started every game for the Bears in 2013, giving up just three sacks in 1,022 snaps.

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final power ranking: 15
Preseason power ranking: 13

Biggest surprise: The Chicago Bears' offensive line didn't exactly set the world on fire, but for the first time in recent memory the group wasn't the weak link of the team. The Bears revamped the offensive line by adding four new starters: Kyle Long, Jordan Mills, Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson. The group's efforts, combined with a more quick-hitting passing game, resulted in just 19 sacks for QB Jay Cutler, his lowest total since 11 with Denver in 2008. The offensive line in 2013 displayed more consistency than any at other time in Cutler's time in Chicago, but the group struggled at inopportune times and often was aided by Cutler and Josh McCown getting rid of the ball quickly. Still, this year's group laid a foundation it can build on.

Biggest disappointment: New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will unfairly take criticism for the defense's failures in 2013. Coming off a 2012 campaign in which the defense ranked No. 5 overall and in the top 10 against the run and the pass, the unit in 2013 surrendered the most rushing yards (2,583) and points (478) in franchise history. Injuries played a major role. They cost the team a combined 72 missed games, 43 among starters alone. In recent history, the defense was the one facet that Chicago could always count on. But that wasn't the case in 2013. What's most surprising is how quickly the defense's decline came after being the team's backbone for so many years.

Biggest need: The defense is badly in need of a total makeover, and the bulk of that work should be done on the defensive line. It's safe to say now that former first-round defensive end Shea McClellin hasn't lived up to expectations and franchise defensive tackle Henry Melton is overrated. The Bears also have to decide whether to move forward with Julius Peppers, who is expensive and starting to show his age (will be 33 on Jan. 18), while finding a way to bring back Corey Wootton. The back end needs help, too. The deals for cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are up, as is the contract for safety Major Wright. The Bears also need to bring in competition to push underperforming safety Chris Conte.

Team MVP: Running back Matt Forte quietly put together his best season as a pro, accounting for nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage (1,933) and career highs in rushing (1,339 yards) and receiving (74 catches, 594 yards). Receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery may have made flashier plays, but make no mistake: Forte is what makes the offense go. Cutler called Forte the best all-around back in the league, and he definitely made a strong case for it in 2013. A true three-down back, Forte threatened defenses as a runner and a receiver. On passing downs, Forte was also key in the team's protection schemes.


Jordan Mills out with foot injury

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
5:07
PM ET
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears right tackle Jordan Mills suffered a foot injury during the team’s first offensive series on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers and has been ruled out for the game.

The extent of the injury wasn’t immediately known, but the team declared Mills out shortly after he left the game.

A rookie fifth-round pick, Mills became the starter at right tackle at the beginning of the season, and has started all 15 of the club’s games. Veteran Eben Britton filled in for Mills after he suffered the injury. A five-year veteran and former second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Britton has started in 30 NFL games.

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