If you plan on checking out the Chicago Bears in their second preseason game of the season Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers, chances are you have somewhat of an agenda. With so many changes this offseason, the Bears’ outlook on 2013 is still a mystery. Will it all come together quickly, or will it take time?
Most fans will be watching for a couple of obvious aspects of the game: Jay Cutler, the linebacker situation or even the competition at wide receiver. But, one of the most crucial parts to this game will be neither of those three mentioned.
The most important part of this second game will be to see how the two rookie offensive linemen shake out. Both Kyle Long and Jordan Mills were elevated to the first team this week in place of James Brown and J’Marcus Webb. Head coach Marc Trestman has loved what he’s seen in both of these guys so far in camp, and thinks they’re deserving of playing with the starters.
Webb has long struggled to be a consistent tackle for the Bears, and Mills is hoping he can prove to do just that. As long as he and Cutler are on the same page, I don’t see that being a problem. Webb had a notorious run-in with the quarterback early on last year and I don’t think Cutler liked him much after that.
Long will be in at guard, but has the ability to play anywhere across the line. He’s a big body but has great footwork, something general manager Phil Emery looked at real closely when deciding to select the former Oregon standout. Son of Hall of Famer Howie Long, he has the pedigree and some excellent genes — a great combination.
I will be watching for these guys to be at their best in hopes of securing a starting spot in the future. The offensive line hasn’t been anywhere near satisfactory for a while now in Chicago, and Cutler certainly prays it has improved significantly. Against the Chargers Thursday, we will see another step in the development of this future line of protection.