When the Bears drafted Kyle Long with the 20th overall pick in April, the big question about his immediate future wasn’t about whether or not he’d start as a rookie.
The question was about whether he’d be starting at guard or tackle because the wide assumption was that a team as needy on the offensive line as the Bears wasn’t about to draft a player in the first round so that they could stash him on the bench. The Bears decided to put Long at right guard, but the rookie isn’t expecting to have a starting job handed to him on a silver platter.
Long didn’t get to do much offseason work with the team because of the NFL rule barring rookies from practicing until their schools have wrapped up the term, which leaves him feeling like he still has to convince the Bears that he’s worthy of a role helping to protect quarterback Jay Cutler from Day One.
“Put yourself in my shoes. I wasn’t allowed to go to OTAs,” Long said, via ESPNChicago.com. “I haven’t seen anyone else on our offensive line. They are all NFL players so obviously I have a tremendous amount of respect for the other guys in the offensive line room. I’m looking forward to getting to work with those guys, great vets like [Roberto] Garza and [Jermon] Bushrod.”
Long’s attitude is the right one, but it still feels like a case where he’ll have to lose the job as opposed to one where he has to convince the Bears he can do it. Picking him where they did showed that the Bears think he’s starter quality and it would be a surprise if Long isn’t up front come the first week of the regular season.