When Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman said that his top priority in his first season with the team was to protect quarterback Jay Cutler, fans everywhere grew immediately fond of their new leader. Not wasting any time on the job, Trestman went to work in the 2013 NFL Draft and both he and Phil Emery addressed the offensive line.
In the first round, the Bears drafted offensive lineman Kyle Long out of Oregon who can play any position on the line and gives the bears a big, strong and quick play at the starting right guard. In the fifth round, Chicago drafted offensive tackle Jordan Mills out of Louisiana Tech who figured to have a chance to compete in camp for a backup role.
Fast forward a few months, and Mills has found his way onto the starting offensive line for Chicago next to Long, a fellow rookie. Thursday night in the team’s second preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, Mills and Long both played tremendously in their first start. In fact, the Bears have gotten great production out of many rookies so far and Emery is looking smarter every day.
Mills, specifically, did everything he was asked. One of the biggest things that stuck out to me however, was the fact that running back Matt Forte could run behind him in the red zone. Mills blocked very well in the open field but in the red zone, he excelled — something Forte hasn’t seen recently with the Bears.
Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod even complimented both Mills and Long after the game, according to The Chicago Tribune.
“It’s encouraging because all they can do is continue to grow. I am very excited about their future. They get it. They want to continue to learn, continue to get better. They can only go up. From what I saw, they did a good job,” Bushrod said.
Getting rave reviews not only from coaches but also from a talent like Bushrod has to make these guys feel great. Mills appears to be on his way to locking down the starting spot even though the Bears were content with trying out J’Marcus Webb on the right side. But, if Mills continues to excel, I don’t see a reason why Chicago lets Webb back in the rotation. He’s been downright terrible since joining the Bears as a seventh round pick.
Mills and Long have demonstrated everything and more that the Bears have expected out of them as rookies. With this kind of drive, success and early growth I think the Bears are excited about the future of their offensive line — and that is a first in a long, long time.