When the Bears drafted offensive lineman Kyle Long a year ago, he had started just five games at Oregon and was considered a raw project with exceptional potential.
As a rookie, though, he progressed fast enough to start every game at right guard.
Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, who was also the Bears' offensive line coach last season, said he considers Long's progress stunning.
"Without being rude, we'd be saying he's coming from an infant who couldn't feed himself to a graduate from college -- that's how far he's come in one year," Kromer said. "That's a testament to the guys around him that helped him, and that's a testament to himself. (He) worked hard at it, and at all times he wanted to know why and how.
"He didn't always grasp it because it was so much information that he didn't know. He would get part of it, and he'd ask again and get another part of it. And he's still asking. He's done a good job of growing, and it's been night and day from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, and then from the end of the season to today.
"In our short football meetings we've had correcting all the tape from last year, as a whole, he's learned a ton since then, and really feels refreshed and free because he's learning these things, so he can go out and play faster."
Work in progress:
It's not necessary that rookie defensive tackle Ego Ferguson become a starter right away, but defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said the 6-foot-3, 315-pound second-round pick has that potential.
"He's got excellent size. He's athletic. He's light on his feet. He's got a strong punch and a good anchor, really good balance and body control," Tucker said. "He's got some juice. He can explode and close in a short area, and he's shown he's got some pass-rush ability as well. There's tremendous upside. I think with good coaching, determination and grit and persistence on his part, I think he can reach his full potential."
Ferguson, does have a few things to work on, however. He was only a one-year starter at LSU, where he showed some underachiever traits, especially early in his career. He entered the draft with a year of college eligibility left.
"He's got to continue in the weight room," coach Marc Trestman said at the conclusion of rookie minicamp. "It starts there with strength and conditioning. The time he spends with (defensive line coach) Paul Pasqualoni and the defensive staff is going to be critically important. He'll have great mentorship here with (defensive tackles) Jeremiah (Ratliff), Stephen (Paea) and Nate (Collins). I think he's a guy that has a lot of enthusiasm. He wants to work. It was evident."
Among the new skills that former quarterback Jordan Lynch has to learn in his new job as running back is how to pass protect.
Coach Marc Trestman believe Lynch can pick it up.
"He understands football," Trestman said. "He's been watching it a long time and hearing coaches coach it. And he's got the 'want-to' to do it. A lot of blocking, pass protection, first you've got to want to do it.
"It's not an easy task to block these players coming at you with the speed that they're coming. But he knows how to play football, and we're going to work real hard to teach him those techniques.
"I know (running backs coach) Skip (Peete) is working very hard at it. We've taken guys over the years who didn't want to block and didn't have any idea how to. He wants to, so we have 50 percent of it done. Now we've just got to teach him."
Coming and going:
In the wake of last weekend's rookie minicamp, two tryout players, running back Senorise Perry and safety Marcus Trice, were signed.
Punter Drew Butler and running back Willie Carter were waived.
The 6-foot, 187-pound Perry rushed for 1,409 yards and 18 touchdowns on 289 carries (4.9-yard average) in four years at Louisville. He also caught 36 passes for 359 yards and averaged 23.3 yards on 22 kickoff returns. The 5-foot-8, 193-pound Trice started all 25 games in two seasons at North Texas, where he totaled 153 tackles, 7 interceptions, 10 pass breakups, 11 tackles for losses, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, a sack and 2 blocked kicks.
Butler appeared in all 16 games for the Steelers in 2012 punting 77 for 3,374 yards (43.8-yard gross average). Carter entered the NFL at the conclusion of the 2013 regular season, signing with the Bears out of Tulsa.