NFC North: Kyle Long

BOURBONNAIS -- Chicago Bears center/guard Brian de la Puente suffered a Grade 2 left MCL sprain in the preseason opener versus the Philadelphia Eagles and is expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks, the veteran offensive lineman told reporters on Sunday.

“My knee feels good,” de la Puente said. “It was a scary deal getting [my knee] rolled up on like that [against the Eagles], but the MRI was promising. The big stuff and the ACL were all right, so it’ll just be a couple of weeks getting it back strong.”

A former starting center for the New Orleans Saints, de la Puente has spent much of camp working at first-team right guard in place of Kyle Long, who’s been forced to miss time due to a viral infection and a sore ankle.

Meantime, starting right tackle Jordan Mills was spotted in a walking boot prior to Sunday’s practice. Mills injured his left foot earlier in the week and did not play against Philadelphia. It’s unclear when he is expected to return to the field. Veteran guard/tackle Eben Britton remains classified as day-to-day with a hamstring injury.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long made his training camp debut Saturday night at Soldier Field after missing the team’s first seven practices with a viral infection.

Long participated during the portion of practice devoted to individual position drills, but the team kept the second-year veteran out of all team activities.

Long
“It was really nice to be in pads,” Long said. “It was really nice to be out there with the guys that worked so hard all training camp. I missed out on a lot of it. So it’s been good to get back today. We’ll keep the ball rolling on Monday.”

The Bears receive a day off from practice on Sunday and resume training camp Monday at Olivet Nazarene University.

The Bears cleared Long to practice on Wednesday, but worked him through three days of conditioning before putting him on the field.

“Just watching him warm up, it was good to see him in pads,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We’ll see what [head athletic trainer] Chris [Hanks] says, and what the guys say after tomorrow. But things are looking up. The plan is still in place. We said he was gonna do individual [drills] tonight in pads, and he did. So that was a good sign. We’ll see where we are on Monday.”

Long joked that he “did actually” want to participate in team drills, but a staffer took away his helmet to prevent that from occurring.

The plan for Long’s return calls for the guard to gradually work himself back into playing shape.

Chicago’s first-round pick in 2013, Long started all 16 games at right guard as a rookie on the way to being named to the Pro Bowl.

Bears Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
4:35
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • Safety Adrian Wilson seems to be gaining a level of comfort in Chicago’s scheme, which in turn has resulted in the veteran playing somewhat faster. But don’t be fooled by Wilson’s seemingly average workout pace as some within the organization believe he’s “practicing like a veteran,” meaning he’s expending as little energy as possible just to make it through camp and into the preseason games. For Wilson, the exhibition games are where he’ll make his mark, and that’s when people within the organization expect the safety to go full bore. Considering he’s currently in a backup role, expect Wilson to receive significant snaps late into the games against mostly backups, and he’ll need to play well -- nearly dominate -- before the staff feels comfortable enough to put him into the mix for one of the starting jobs. The coaching staff hopes Wilson pans out because if he does, it gives the Bears an intimidating force on the back end they haven’t had in several years.
  • The Bears pumped in the music as usual for the individual portions of practice, but when the team simulated some live situations, staffers piped in crowd noise through the public address system. The extra noise didn’t seem to affect execution on either side of the ball.
  • Strangely, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte seemed to drop more passes in one day Thursday than they had throughout all of training camp. Jeffery and Forte each dropped two passes with the former making up for it by hauling in a long ball late in practice between two defenders. Chris Williams, a candidate to become the club’s primary punt returner and a backup receiver, muffed a punt and also dropped a pass.
  • Despite Marshall's drop, he made perhaps the catch of the day in a goal-line drill. With Demontre Hurst draped all over him, Marshall made a spinning one-handed grab for a touchdown. Marshall receives points for difficulty on this one as he caught the touchdown with his left hand.
  • Just before the start of practice, the Bears announced they signed offensive lineman Graham Pocic to a one-year contract and waived receiver Terrence Tolliver with an injury settlement. Pocic signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Illinois.
  • Non-participants at practice Thursday included safeties Craig Steltz (groin) and Chris Conte (shoulder) along with guards Kyle Long and Eben Britton (hamstring). Long has been cleared to return to practice, but won’t be back in pads until the club’s night workout Saturday at Soldier Field. Britton wasn’t on the field with teammates as he spent all of the practice rehabilitating inside with athletic trainers.
  • Jermon Bushrod, Stephen Paea, Austen Lane, and Jordan Mills were the stars of one-on-one drills featuring offensive linemen against defensive linemen. Paea made the most impressive move of the day, using a swim move to blow past Roberto Garza in just one step.
  • The Bears practice again Friday at 9 a.m. CST.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears announced Wednesday that Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long has been cleared to return to practice, after starting training camp on the non-football injury list due to a viral infection.

Long
The club plans to spend the next few days putting Long through conditioning work, and the expectation is he’ll join teammates Saturday when the Bears conduct a night practice at Soldier Field.

“We’re just going to continue to condition him,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s got to get his legs back underneath him. I think by Saturday night you’ll see him in pads. We’ll work him into individual [drills] in pads on Saturday night. That would be the hope and we’ll take it from [there]. If we feel he’s got his feet underneath him and his pads are where they should be, we’ll see where Saturday night goes. That would be the plan, but we’re going to take one day at a time.”

Long declined to speak with reporters Wednesday, as he walked off the field at the conclusion of practice.

Long met with a physician on Monday, and the club held him out of practice again on Wednesday. After the workout Wednesday, Long was still listed on the team’s non-football injury list.

In all, Long has been held out of all five training camp practices. During the period of inactivity, Long has “done minimal things” to stay in shape, Trestman said.

“He hasn’t put pads on for quite some time, and hasn’t played football for quite some time, even through the OTAs and now the time away of the first five days of practices,” Trestman said. “We’ve been here six or seven days learning and doing those kinds of things, and he’s been away some of that time. That all goes into the mix and we’re trying to do the right thing. We’ll do what the trainers and doctors tell us to do. He’ll be back in meetings and he’ll get back on his feet and we’ll get him going.”

 

Bears Camp Report: Day 4

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
5:05
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • Expectations are sky high for a Bears offense that ranked No. 2 in the NFL last year in points scored (27.8 per game) and No. 5 in passing yards (267.6 per game), but the opening four days of practice have produced a mixed bag of results from a unit that is expected to return all 11 starters. Monday’s performance was no different. At certain points of the session, quarterback Jay Cutler ran the offensive scheme to perfection, firing completions to wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Marquess Wilson and tight end Martellus Bennett that went for huge gains. On the flip side, Cutler badly underthrew Marshall on a deep route into double coverage that should’ve been intercepted by Bears defenders who were stationed in the area. Veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden later picked off a deflected Cutler pass in full-team 11-on-11, Hayden’s third interception since the start of camp. There were also batted-down balls at the line of scrimmage and botched snaps from the center to the quarterback that resulted in Cutler describing the offense as “good and bad.” Cutler continued: “That is to be expected taking the time off in July. We’re getting better and better. There’s been some sloppy stuff out there. We’ve got to clean it up. I think the guys are doing a really good job of just recognizing the plays and getting lined up and knowing the concepts and knowing the checks and everything. So if we just clean up some of the little things as we go, we’ll be all right.”
  • The Bears desperately need their top three draft choices to step in and make immediate contributions on defense. First-round pick cornerback Kyle Fuller looks the part and continues to receive extensive reps on the first team in base and nickel with Tim Jennings temporarily sidelined due to a sore groin. Third-round choice Will Sutton got thrown into the fire on Monday at three-technique defensive tackle as the coaching staff decided to give Jeremiah Ratliff a veteran’s day off. Sutton appeared to hold up OK versus the heightened competition. Rookie nose tackle Ego Ferguson flashes the ability to get up-field in one-on-one individual pass-rush drills, but Ferguson has ended up on the ground on at least three separate occasions since the pads came on. Ferguson needs to find the perfect combination of speed and balance to ensure he doesn’t take himself out of the play when games begin for real next month.
  • Fans chanted “Mega-Punt” whenever first-year punter Pat O'Donnell connected with the football on Sunday. Not to be outdone, punter Tress Way won the matchup between the two aspiring kickers on Monday. As a sixth-round draft choice, O'Donnell is considered the favorite to win the job, but Way has proved to those in the organization that he is an NFL-caliber punter. Even if Way is eventually released, he can still make it in the league. Former Bears “camp legs” have found gainful employment in the league: Spencer Lanning (Cleveland Browns) and Ryan Quigley (New York Jets).
  • Most of the wideouts competing for the final roster spots have done little to distinguish themselves. The two exceptions are Eric Weems and Chris Williams. Not only are Weems and Williams natural fits in the return game, they have managed to catch the football in camp. The other reserve receivers have been plagued by drops.
  • Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long (viral infection) visited doctors on Monday, but the team cannot say if Long will be back on the field when it returns to work on Wednesday. With Long out, the Bears have worked various combinations at guard, with Eben Britton, Michael Ola and Brian de la Puente all seeing time with the starters.
  • Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (sore foot), receiver Terrence Toliver (toe), safety Chris Conte (PUP) and safety Craig Steltz (PUP) were all spectators on Monday.
  • The Bears are off on Tuesday. The next practice is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m. CT.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long met with doctors on Monday to check the progress of his recovery from a viral infection that’s forced the former first-round pick to miss the opening four practices of camp.

Long
Despite Long’s illness, the second-year guard had been present at every training camp practice until Monday’s excused absence. The Bears next workout at Olivet Nazarene University is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m. CT.

“I expect to hear from [Long] and the doctors today, and we’ll get a better idea where he is at,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said.

The No. 20 overall pick of the 2013 NFL draft, Long started just five games at Oregon before making the jump to the NFL, where he became a permanent fixture in the Bears’ starting lineup last season at right guard, helping the offensive line achieve its lowest sack total (30) since 2008.

But there is legitimate concern whenever an NFL player misses an extended period of training camp.

“Any player, no matter how long they’ve played the game, needs to practice and needs to work,” Trestman said. “It doesn’t matter who they are or at what level they play at. Kyle is missing time and there is nothing we can do about it. When he gets back here, he is going to have to get back into it and make up for some lost time.”

With Long sidelined, the Bears have experimented with different combinations at guard, including Eben Britton, Michael Ola and Brian de la Puente. Ola and de la Puente finished practice on Monday at guard with the starters in a two-minute drill after left guard Matt Slauson sat out the final period for undisclosed reasons.

“It’s been beneficial that we’ve been able to get some of these other guys in there,” Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “We’ve been able to look closer at our rotation, but we hope to get Kyle back as soon as possible.”

In other Bears injury news, cornerback Tim Jennings (quad) was sidelined for a third consecutive day, Pro Bowl wide receiver Alshon Jeffery sat out due to a sore foot and wideout Terrence Toliver is still out because of a bad toe. Veteran defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff was given Monday off by the coaching staff.

Bears Camp Report: Day 2

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
4:25
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp.

" Day 1 of training camp Friday brought about a spirited workout that included a minor shoving match between Sherrick McManis and Eric Weems. On Saturday, the Bears experienced a full-blown dust-up that appeared to involve defensive end Lamarr Houston and right tackle Jordan Mills initially, and escalated to include defensive end Willie Young and Kyle Long, who still isn’t practicing because of a viral infection.

At first, Bears coach Marc Trestman joked “we’ve got to start charging” for people to watch, but took a more serious tone in pondering the implications such an event could have on the team. Trestman believes in simulating game situations whenever possible. So “if we’re practicing like it’s a game, we would have lost both players today,” he said.

Trestman also called the skirmishes “a disciplinary issue” in addition to “a major safety issue.” Interestingly, Mills and Houston were involved back in June in a similar incident during organized team activities.

" What should have been a touchdown to Martellus Bennett from Jay Cutler during a red-zone drill instead became a breakup by linebacker Jonathan Bostic.Bennett and Cutler refused to let it go. So after practice, the two stood in the end zone discussing ways they could be more effective in the red zone as the rest of the team walked off the field.

Bennett explained to ESPN.com that Cutler thought he fired the pass in the end zone high enough to get it past the outstretched arms of Bostic, and into the tight end’s hands. But at 6-foot-6, Bennett said, “What might be a high pass for someone else is different than my high,” meaning his catch radius is wider than most of the team’s targets.

“We’re just trying to take the thinking process out for both of us and make it more of a reaction thing; me reacting to his throws instead of him reacting to my body,” Bennett said.

Bennett hopes the 10 minutes spent in the end zone after practice Saturday will ensure touchdowns instead of incompletions once the season starts.

" The Bears held out Tim Jennings (quadriceps) from Saturday’s practice, and defensive end Willie Young left near the end of the workout after experiencing soreness in a quadriceps. Both are day to day. Other non-participants included safeties Craig Steltz (groin) and Chris Conte (shoulder) along with Long (viral infection).

" Despite repetitions typically being scarce for rookies, sixth-round pick David Fales received an extended period of snaps to run the offense during a team session. Although his delivery appears somewhat unconventional, it’s clear the quarterback knows where to go with the ball, makes quick decisions and doesn’t take risks. Fales was accurate on the majority of his throws, but most of his passes traveled fewer than 10 yards.

" Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is splitting the reps between Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen as the two compete for the No. 2 job behind Cutler. Clausen played most of the snaps with the second-team offense during the first half of practice, and the quarterback delivered several strikes while making virtually no mistakes. Palmer, meanwhile, struggled with accuracy working with the third team and threw an interception to linebacker Khaseem Greene. Palmer worked with the second team later in practice and improved significantly.“

"You shouldn’t draw any conclusions by who the guy [is] that goes in there after Jay’s in there,” Trestman said. “We’re just moving people around and giving each guy a chance to work with different people and different centers and so forth.”
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Even with temperatures in the low 70s, the Bears momentarily lost their cool for the second consecutive day.

Friday’s brief shoving match between wide receiver Eric Weems and cornerback Sherrick McManis lasted only a couple seconds, but Saturday morning’s dustup involved multiple players and took several members of the team to restore order.

The main combatants appeared to be defensive lineman Lamarr Houston and right tackle Jordan Mills, along with defensive end Willie Young. At one point guard Kyle Long tried to play peacemaker and separate the players, even though Long is still not practicing due to a viral infection. Multiple players from both sides then jumped in to quiet down the situation.

There were no further problems, and all the parties involved downplayed the incident after practice, as expected.

Shoving matches and minor fights are commonplace at NFL training camps, but Bears head coach Marc Trestman prefers that his players avoid engaging in that type of behavior, and for good reason.

“We know that there are times in practice where a player may lose his mind,” Trestman said. “The bottom line is when we talk about it in meetings: fighting is a disciplinary issue. We would have lost both players. If we’re practicing like it’s a game, we would have lost both players today.

“Not only that but it’s a major safety issue. The guys involved are remorseful about it. They don’t want it to happen and they know it hurts the football team. The thing you like to see is that it didn’t linger. The team got back to work and there were no other altercations. But one play can hurt a football team. That’s how we sell it to each and every guy. On one play we can lose players. And it’s a safety issue. We have to continue to move forward with that and I know we will.”

Long arrives at ONU

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
4:09
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long's absence lasted just one day.

Long
The 2013 first-round pick arrived on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University around lunchtime Thursday, one day after the rest of the team reported to training camp, and told reporters he is recovering from a viral infection that is expected to sideline him through the weekend.

"I was pretty sick and run down this past weekend, but I'm feeling better," Long said before entering the ONU dining hall.

Bears general manager Phil Emery said Wednesday that Long will be re-evaluated at the beginning of next week.

Long was officially placed on the non-football injury list on Thursday.

No official timetable has been set for Long to start practicing, but right tackle Jordan Mills believes the Pro Bowl right guard will return in short order.

"He's going to be fine. He's tough," Mills said. "He hates that he wasn't here to see everybody yesterday."

The Bears ran their annual conditioning test Thursday morning, which consisted of three 300-yard shuttles.

Safety Craig Steltz (groin surgery) passed his conditioning test, but he will begin camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list along with fellow safety Chris Conte.
Marc TrestmanAP Photo/Matt RourkeUpon becoming coach of the Bears, Marc Trestman worked toward ending hazing in the locker room.
Marc Trestman's ability to think organically no doubt raised him above some of the other candidates during general manager Phil Emery's search prior to last season for a new coach to lead the Chicago Bears.

Trestman now seems to be taking things a step further, based on this article written by Peter King of The Monday Morning Quarterback, and might be on track to show that a proper culture in the locker room could translate into victories on the football field.

According to King, Trestman and quarterback Jay Cutler hopped a flight to New York to meet with Dov Seidman, an author who writes and speaks about values-based leadership, to toss around ideas about how to foster a more ethical culture in the locker room. What's interesting is Trestman made the eradication of hazing one of his first directives after taking the job as head coach of the Bears, and some of the players believed that move last season fostered a better work environment.

Obviously, locker room culture became a hot issue around the league last season when the Miami Dolphins suspended Richie Incognito, stemming from allegations of harassment from offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, who left the team and checked himself into a hospital to treat emotional distress. According to King, Seidman addressed team officials at the NFL's annual meeting in March, and is currently in the midst of conducting one-hour meetings with all 32 teams this month to talk about culture change in locker rooms.

“I've been in places where there's been hazing, and I've been in places where there has not been hazing,” Trestman said last November. “I told the team the first night: ‘When you haze somebody, you take their ability to help you win. Everybody's here to help you win.' We're not talking about taking a helmet and walking off the field with a helmet. We're talking about other things. The words you use, the way you act, the things you say affect people from all different backgrounds and places. We've got to understand that the beauty of this game is it draws people from everywhere, from different realities and different perceptions. But that can all be neutralized through respect and using the proper language and proper words in the right place and the right time, in this building, on the field, and when we're out in the community because we represent the entire city.”

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
David Banks/Getty Images"You have to earn your stripes ... but as far as crossing that line -- disrespecting guys, demeaning guys -- that just doesn't happen here," Brandon Marshall said.
It's clear Trestman wants to further improve upon some of the cultural changes he made upon becoming the team's head coach, and bringing along Cutler, who has never been perceived from the outside as a leader in the locker room, could go a long way toward that.

Trestman told King: “I got a tremendous start in the way a locker room was run when I coached for five years in Canada. In our locker room, everyone should feel safe. For some of the guys in Chicago, it was kind of new to them. There'd be no hazing. Lovie Smith had a great group of players, a great group, and he did a great job with them. There were some subtle things I wanted to add. I wanted to keep growing.”

Trestman declined to get into specifics about his conversation, telling King he simply “wanted to find out what else we could do to keep growing.”

Receiver Brandon Marshall and guard Kyle Long, who was a rookie in 2013, have both said they've appreciated Trestman's approach.

“Here, it's different. We look at rookies differently,” Marshall said. “You have to earn your stripes, earn your place on the team, earn your place in the NFL. But as far as crossing that line -- disrespecting guys, demeaning guys -- that just doesn't happen here. Actually, Coach Trestman did a great job of really going out of his way to make everyone feel comfortable from day one. There were some things where we were like, ‘Man, this stuff goes on in every locker room. We would love to continue to do it.' But Coach just said, ‘Hey, we're going to nip that in the bud. I want guys to focus on football, and everyone just focus on their jobs and not Rookie Night or what guys might do to me the next day [in terms of hazing].'”

Long said that Trestman made it “very clear from the beginning” that there would be no hazing in the locker room.

“I feel that's very conducive to a healthy workplace,” Long said. “We really appreciate that about Coach, where nobody is put ahead of anybody else. But at the same time, for you to think that we don't understand that we are rookies, you'd be mistaken.”

Through a coaching career spanning nearly three decades -- ranging from stints at colleges, a head-coaching job in the Canadian Football League and several other stints around the NFL -- Trestman said he's “seen the incidents” of hazing, and in Chicago he wanted to “build on the concept of respect and the growth of respect.”

“We're not going to spend time having players worry about things that can't help us win and are going to be disrespectful,” Trestman said last November. “I can't speak for anyone in the National Football League on that. I'm not going to stand up here after seven weeks on the job and start speaking for the league. Our whole foundation's built on respect for everyone in the organization, respect for the players, respect for the game, honoring the game. We've talked about it a lot.”

Apparently, Trestman's way isn't the norm around the NFL, which is part of the reason the league enlisted Seidman as a consultant. Seidman is the CEO of the LRN Corporation, which works with businesses to stress principled performance. Seidman believes culture change in NFL locker rooms won't take place overnight.

Trestman seems to be way ahead of the curve in that area.

Rookie Review: Kyle Long

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
8:00
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With the Super Bowl out of the way, we wanted to take stock of how Chicago’s 2013 rookie class performed last season.

In general manager Phil Emery’s third year with the Chicago Bears, all six players from his latest class of selections made the 2013 roster. Three became starters, four started games, and one more received playing time.

How did they do? We’ll try to assess right here:

Stats: None individually, but as a rookie starter on what had previously been a shaky offensive line, Kyle Long contributed to improved protection in 2013 for an offense that set multiple single-season franchise records. With Long in the starting lineup, the offense racked up a franchise-record 6,109 yards on the way to finishing second in team history in scoring (445 points).

[+] EnlargeKyle Long
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesGuard Kyle Long, a first-round pick, was was named to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement.
2013 Role: The team’s first-round pick, Long missed valuable time in the offseason program because he was ineligible to participate in organized team activities and a minicamp because of Oregon’s quarter system, which pushed the school’s final exams back to the middle of June. All along the team planned to make Long a Day 1 starter. So it worked diligently to get Long up to speed in making his NFL transition, and the rookie came along quickly.

Long started all 16 games and was named to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for San Francisco guard Mike Iupati, who broke an ankle in the NFC Championship Game.

The good: Long became the club’s first offensive lineman to earn Pro Bowl recognition since 2006 (Olin Kreutz and Ruben Brown), and played a key role on the right side of the line, especially in the running game. With four new starters on the offensive line, the Bears finished 2013 as one of three teams in the NFL to start the same five offensive linemen for all 16 games, and the group allowed 30 sacks last season, which tied for fourth fewest in the NFL. The club’s 30 sacks ranked as its fewest since 2008, when the Bears surrendered 29 sacks.

Long played a total of 1,079 snaps as a rookie, giving up just two sacks, according to Pro Football Focus as the Bears finished with a 4.9 sacks percentage on a total of 609 drop backs (sixth-lowest for the Bears since sacks became an official statistic in 1982).

Interestingly, Chicago experienced most of its success running behind Long (6.27 yards per attempt to his side), who was penalized just three times all season.

The bad: It’s a bad idea to ever ask a player to take it down a notch, but at times Long’s pedal-to-the-floor style of play led to him being overaggressive, which in turn adversely affected technique. So while the Bears won’t ask Long to dial it down totally, they’ll need him to learn to consistently lean on technique regardless of the situation and atmosphere, even when things get tense. Really, there’s not much bad you can say about what initially seemed like a head-scratcher of a pick in the first round. He earned his way into the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Perhaps the most memorable “bad” moment for Long was his fight near the sidelines on Nov. 24 at St. Louis, involving Rams defensive end William Hayes. But the scuffle appeared to be a case of Long protecting a teammate. That’s a good thing.

Looking ahead: His physical tools, attitude, and thirst to continually improve indicate Long can develop into a key cog on Chicago’s offensive line, and remain there for the next 10 years or so. Once Long can consistently combine the small fundamental elements such as hand placement and weight disbursement when engaged with his tremendous strength, aggression and mobility, the Bears could have something special at the right guard position. What’s scary is Long appears to possess the skill set to kick outside to tackle, should the Bears choose to try him there in the coming years. Based on offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer’s reputation for developing offensive linemen and Long’s willingness to learn, the Bears will coax the most from the rising second-year player. There should be several more Pro Bowls awaiting Long in the future.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears 2013 first-round pick right guard Kyle Long has been added to the 2014 NFC Pro Bowl roster after San Francisco 49ers left guard Mike Iupati fractured his left fibula during the NFC Championship Game.

 

Long is the Bears’ first Pro Bowl offensive lineman since center Olin Kreutz and guard Ruben Brown were awarded the honor in the 2006 regular season.

Selected with the No. 20 overall pick out of Oregon, Long started all 16 games at right guard for the Bears despite playing just one year of Division I college football for the Ducks. Long began his collegiate career at Florida State playing baseball before eventually switching to football and enrolling at Saddleback Community College for two years. In his lone season at Oregon, Long played in 11 games and started the final five at left guard.

The son of Hall of Famer Howie Long and brother of St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long, the 6-foot-6, 313 pound rookie was a fixture on a rebuilt Bears’ offensive line that surrendered only 30 sacks in 579 passing attempts and helped pave the way for tailback Matt Forte to rush for 1,339 yards.

Long is now the fifth Bears player to be named to the 2014 Pro Bowl joining wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, running back Matt Forte and cornerback Tim Jennings, who replaced Seattle’s Richard Sherman on Monday.

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.


LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The NFL fined Chicago Bears offensive guard Kyle Long $7,875 for his role in an altercation that broke out in the second quarter of the Bears’ 42-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams last Sunday, Long confirmed on Wednesday.

Long
With 8:59 left in the first half, Bears quarterback Josh McCown threw an incomplete pass that bounced in the direction of fullback Tony Fiammetta and scooped up by St. Louis cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Because none of the officials blew a whistle, Fiammetta grabbed Johnson’s facemask as the Rams’ defender attempted to advance the ball up field.

Further up the field, Long went after St. Louis defensive end William Hayes near the Rams’ sideline and had to be restrained by several players, including Long’s older brother Chris, a star defensive end for the Rams who left his team’s bench to try to break up the fight.

Long received a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty but was not ejected from the game. He did not elaborate on what sparked the incident when speaking with reporters in the postgame locker room, but did apologize via his official Twitter account (@Ky1eLong).

“I want to apologize to the fans for losing my cool today,” Long tweeted on Sunday. “Not a representation of the person that I am or the Bears. Shouldn’t happen.”

Long, the Bears' 2013 first round draft choice, has started all 11 games this season at right guard.

Long brothers involved in scuffle

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
6:48
PM ET
ST. LOUIS -- The first matchup between Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long and his brother, Chris Long of the St. Louis Rams, received attention entering Sunday’s game, but a scuffle in the second quarter shined the spotlight directly on the duo.

During Chicago’s 42-21 loss to St. Louis, quarterback Josh McCown absorbed a vicious hit while attempting to throw a pass to Tony Fiammetta, with Kyle Long becoming involved in somewhat of a mini-brawl with Rams defensive end William Hayes away from the play.

During the scuffle, it appeared Long kicked Hayes.

[+] EnlargeChris Long
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhRams defensive end Chris Long, left, talks to his brother, Kyle, a Bears guard, after St. Louis' win.
That led to Chris Long sprinting off St. Louis’ sideline to grab his younger brother and pull him away from the fight.

Kyle Long declined to discuss the incident after the game, saying, “Look, I’m here to talk football. So if there are any football questions you guys have, I’d love to answer those.”

He later apologized on Twitter.

“I want to apologize to the fans for losing my cool today,” Long said. “Not a representation of the person that I am or the Bears. Shouldn’t happen.”

Bears coach Marc Trestman said Long calmed down quickly.

“I looked over at him once [offensive coordinator] Aaron [Kromer] got a hold of him, and he seemed to quiet himself down,” Trestman said. “I think I’ll be able to talk more about that tomorrow, because I really didn’t see everything that happened. I saw Kyle lose his temper. I don’t know why. I was on the other side of the field.”

Given that Kyle Long appeared to kick a player during the scrum, it’s fortunate for the Chicago Bears that officials didn’t eject him. Asked why Kyle Long was allowed to continue to participate, referee Jerome Boger said, “O.K., I was one of the covering officials on that play, and what I had the unnecessary roughness call was for piling on, that he piled on onto a player who was already on the ground. I didn’t see a kick by him.”

Chris Long wasn’t forced out of the game or penalized, because there is no automatic ejection for coming off the bench in the NFL.

“It’s tough. One of your best friends and your brother,” Chris Long said. “They’re two of the strongest people I know. I’m just glad everybody got out of there O.K. It was just a heated game.”

Asked whether he helped his younger brother by pulling him from the pile, Chris Long said he was simply trying to pull an opponent away from a teammate.

“If pulling him out of the pile and yoking up is helping him ... I’m trying to get him off my teammate just like any other situation that would arise,” he said. “I don’t want us to get a flag, and one way to defuse that situation is to get everybody out of there. He happened to be the body that I saw.”

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