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updated: 9/4/2013 7:44 PM

Bengals defense will test Bears' rookies

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On Sunday, two rookies, right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Jordan Mills, will start their first NFL games against the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive line, which is one of the NFL's best and features two-time Pro Bowl tackle Geno Atkins.

It's time for the two youngsters to sink or swim, and Bears coach Marc Trestman believes the coaching staff has done everything possible to get them ready.

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"The most we could've done up to this point is get them as much work as they've gotten," Trestman said. "And they've gotten it against some very good players (in practice)."

Trestman said he could help the rookies with his play-calling.

"Try to have some balance to our attack, mix the run and the pass, get some movement and move the ball around," he said. "And that won't be easy. This is a very good defense we're facing, very similar to the one we face each and every day in practice, which is a good thing for our preparation."

Atkins has 20 sacks over the last two seasons, easily the most among all NFL interior linemen.

"You grow up watching guys like Geno Atkins, so to get an opportunity to play against him, obviously it's a little test for our offensive line," said Long, who will, at times, go head-to-head with Atkins. "I'll be lining up against him a lot. It will be a good opportunity. Luckily we have great guys we practice against every day, and it gets us ready to go for Sundays."

Staying focused:

Eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers doesn't seem to care much what the Bengals or anyone else's offense does. He's more concerned with the Bears defense executing its game plan.

"I don't really watch much of the opponent," Peppers said. "It's about us and what we do. I'm not really too concerned about whatever they're doing over there.

"We don't worry about them because it's about us. We don't necessarily do a lot of calls with their plays on it because we don't study them. We study ourselves."

Unclaimed children:

In his 13th NFL season, 34-year-old center Roberto Garza is the line leader and a mentor, but he laughed when he was asked if he felt like a father figure to rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills, who will start Sunday at right guard and right tackle, respectively.

"I wouldn't call myself a father figure, man," Garza said. "Not to those guys."

Coming and going:

Guard Derek Dennis, who spent the preseason with the Bears, was signed to the practice squad Wednesday, and the practice squad contract of quarterback Jerrod Johnson was terminated.

The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Dennis spent the last five weeks of the 2012 regular season on the Bears practice squad. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins out of Temple.

Picture of health:

The Bears did not list anyone on Wednesday's injury report.

For the Bengals, starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) did not practice.

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