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updated: 9/3/2013 7:55 AM

All these Bears rookies conjure up Super memories

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  • Kyle Long, a first-round draft pick, is one of several Bears rookies who could make an impact this season.

       Kyle Long, a first-round draft pick, is one of several Bears rookies who could make an impact this season.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Bears can only hope that what goes around comes around every 30 years.

The 1983 draft was one of the best, if not the very best, in franchise history.

Just rattle off the names from Jimbo Covert to Mark Bortz and Willie Gault to Richard Dent and Mike Richardson to Tom Thayer … and Dave Duerson, may he rest in peace.

We're talking about starters on the Super Bowl XX championship team that complemented earlier draftees such as Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary and Walter Payton.

Three decades later the Bears just might have another terrific collection of rookies that in time will contribute to another Super Bowl champion.

Or not.

"At this point we're just trying to earn spots on the team," first-round offensive guard Kyle Long said Monday. "We're not thinking any further down the road."

Ten rookies did earn spots on the 2013 Bears barring the unforeseen between now and Sunday's regular-season opener against the Bengals. Other teams in NFL history have kept this many, though probably not many won 10 games during the previous season.

The Bears were 10-6 last year and yet it's hard to walk through the locker room without bumping into a first-year player who not long ago learned how to shave, tie his cleats and cross only at the corner.

"I think it's just where we are roster-wise," second-year general manager Phil Emery said. "These players earned their way."

Change isn't always progress but new generally is fresh and fresh generally is intriguing and intriguing generally is exciting.

The Bears had become stale under head coach Lovie Smith, middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and some other now-former players. Smith is gone, replaced by Marc Trestman, and so is Urlacher, replaced so far by rookie Jon Bostic.

Many of the Bears rookies will play prominent roles: Bostic as long as he stays ahead of veteran D.J. Williams on the depth chart; Long and Jordan Mills comprising the right side of the offensive line; Marquess Wilson at wide receiver unless concussed veteran Earl Bennett is completely un-concussed …

The youths who don't start will have to provide depth, always a precarious proposition considering every NFL player is a play away from injury.

The primary question, of course, is whether the rookie class is remarkably talented or merely a last resort in roster building.

"They were the best players available," Emery said.

Not even the Bears' GM can be sure that there is a Hall of Famer like Dent in the lot or even an eventual Pro Bowl player or two or three.

But Emery, Trestman and everyone else will find out soon enough because each rookie figures to receive an opportunity to prove himself in some role. The newcomers will blend in with carry-overs on offense like Roberto Garza, defense like Julius Peppers and special teams like Pat Mannelly.

It's a nice mix of younger and older, but only if the record doesn't finish closer to 6-10 than 10-6.

The Bears kept all six of their 2013 draft choices after a 2012 draft that left Emery's judgment in doubt. That means for this to go as plan the club will have to go from an ordinary group of rookies one year to an extraordinary group the next.

"It's a unique class," Long said, though he doesn't have any other NFL rookie seasons to compare it to. "We've grown very close together."

Maybe it's too much to ask these guys to grow as close as the Thayers, Duersons and Bortzes were on that Sunday in New Orleans when the Bears won Super Bowl XX.

But if they do, imagine the anticipation prior to the 2043 draft.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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