In his one season of major-college football, Bears first-round pick Kyle Long started his only five games at left guard.
But he lined up exclusively at right guard during Friday’s rookie minicamp practice inside the Walter Payton Center.
The adjustment isn’t a problem, according to the middle son of NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long.
“My hand’s still on the ground, and I’m still supposed to block somebody,” Long said. “It’s just a different side.”
After Sunday’s final practice, Long won’t be back with the Bears until training camp begins in late July. Because of an NFL rule that prohibits a rookie from practicing with his pro team before his school’s final exams have been completed, Long will miss all the OTAs (organized team activities, May 13-June 6), and the full-team minicamp (June 11-13). Oregon’s finals aren’t completed until June 14. But rookies are permitted to participate in rookie minicamps.
“It’s frustrating,” Long said. “But due to the quarter system, like a lot of Pac-12 guys, I’m going to have to wait.
“Obviously I’m behind the eight-ball a little bit. But I’ll have the (playbook) installations ahead of time. It’s kind of like if you’re missing a week of school (because) you’re sick and you want to get the lesson plan from your teacher ahead of time. That’s kind of how I’m treating this.”
Bears coach Marc Trestman doesn’t consider the situation an insurmountable obstacle for Long, who is expected to contend for a starting job as a rookie.
“We’ve got a lot of different ways of communicating with him,” Trestman said. “We can show tape to him and sit in a meeting with him and watch tape with him right on a computer.”
Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, a long-time NFL offensive line coach, will be in communication with Long after the staff makes assessments following their review of film from this weekend’s work.
“Kyle is a very smart guy,” Trestman said. “We know he’s going to dig in and do everything he can to get himself ready -- not just physically, but mentally. It’s a minimal obstacle and nothing we can’t handle. The opportunity to embrace it and get it done is something we’re up to, or we wouldn’t have made the pick.”
Making an impression:
Because Lake Zurich High School and Wisconsin-Whitewater quarterback Matt Blanchard was a practice squad player last season, he is allowed to participate in the rookie minicamp.
Blanchard’s off-season mission is to play well enough to give coaches the confidence to go to training camp with just himself and veteran Josh McCown backing up Jay Cutler. Then he can hopefully lock down the No. 3 spot with his play in preseason games.
“I like Matt,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s got a good base. He throws the ball well. He’s very, very smart. He obviously has the aptitude to the play the game. He’s very good with our system; that’s come to him very easily. And he throws the ball very well. He doesn’t seem out of place at all to any of us, and that’s why he’s with us.”
The 6-foot-3 Blanchard has added 5 pounds and is still in better shape at 225 than he was a year ago, and he’s had time to grasp the new system.
“I’m a lot more confident,” he said. “I’ve had a chance to work with Jay and Josh and (quarterbacks) coach (Matt) Cavanaugh and coach Trestman. I’ve had a month and a half now to learn the playbook and digest it. I was glad I was able to put it on the field (Friday) with all of the stuff I was able to learn.”
Second-round pick Jon Bostic was happy to be back on the playing field Friday at middle linebacker after months of off-the-field activity.
“We’ve been going through all these Combines, interviews and meeting with people,” the Florida product said. “Now we’re back to football. I couldn’t wait to get up here. It’s getting back to football. I was tired of the wine and dine stuff. I like this part more.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.