Bears' interior linemen expected to be team strength

Guards Kyle Long and Josh Sitton have been voted to seven Pro Bowls between them, and along with center Cody Whitehair, the Bears' interior linemen are expected to be a team strength.

Amid the rubble of last season's 3-13 dumpster fire was a fourth Pro Bowl trip for Sitton in his first year with the Bears. Despite the lack of team success, the 10th-year veteran said the personal recognition from his peers still means something.

"You have goals as a player in this league," Sitton said, "and when you reach them, you're happy about it."

Sitton played left guard last season, but the Bears are experimenting with flip-flopping him and Kyle Long, who played right guard in 2016. Sitton missed the first week of training camp on paternity leave, and Long is being brought along slowly following off-season ankle surgery, so the O-line has rarely practiced together. But according to new quarterback Mike Glennon, that unit will be integral to the success of the offense.

"Our strength starts up front with that offensive line - that's our run game, and that's protecting the quarterback," Glennon said. "Our offense starts with the run game, and we build from there."

The Bears' only other Pro Bowl player last season was rookie running back Jordan Howard, who rushed for 1,313 yards.

Confidence builder:

The Bears are hoping that an influx of new players - free agents and rookies - will turn around the fortunes of a team coming off the worst 16-game record in franchise history.

Several newcomers flashed in Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage at Soldier Field in front of approximately 18,000 fans, as each of the top three quarterbacks had one possession.

No. 2 quarterback Mark Sanchez's 52-yard TD pass to Victor Cruz was the offensive highlight. Sanchez was with the Dallas Cowboys last year, while Cruz spent his first seven seasons with the New York Giants.

Starting quarterback Mike Glennon ended his possession with a short TD pass to tight end Dion Sims. Glennon played his first four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while Sims spent his first four years with the Miami Dolphins.

Rookie Mitch Trubisky, third on the depth chart, led his group to a short field goal.

"Coming off a 3-13 season there's not a lot of confidence," coach John Fox said. "But we've got a lot of new guys. With new people in that locker room, it will kind of help that."

Haven't earned it:

Asked to predict how much better the defense can be than a year ago, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio declined.

"We'll see," Fangio said. "I don't know. I'm not in the prediction business. When you're coming off 3-13, you don't have the right to predict anything."

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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