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ARKUSH: Rookies Kyle Long, Jordan Mills deserve another start

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Updated: August 16, 2013 1:36PM



The trick to evaluating preseason football is to set very clear goals, grade players on their complete body of work, never overreact and make sure you check the film before you start handing out grades.

So, obviously, all you get here are some strong first impressions and mine from the Bears’ second preseason game, and they had a decent night in a 33-28 win over the San Diego Chargers.

My first impression is this Bears team is going to be better on offense, regardless of what Marc Trestman does, because for the first time in a long time, it has multiple Pro Bowlers on the field. With talent like Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Jermon Bushrod and others, they are going to make plays.

Better yet, the experiment of starting rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills next to each other at right guard and tackle showed more than enough to merit another start for each.

Here comes the cautionary tale, though. In spite of the hue and cry in the Twitterverse to begin preparing another Long bust for Canton, it’s still an experiment with a long way to go. Extracting Matt Forte’s 58-yard run, which neither of the rooks had anything to do with, the Bears’ offense managed 86 yards on 27 plays in the first half, during which Long and Mills ran with the first and second teams. That’s a paltry 3.2 yards per snap.

That’s obviously not all about just the rookie linemen, but who exactly did they dominate?

The film will show that Long and Mills acquitted themselves well. Long is clearly learning very quickly but still has a long way to go with technique.

I was actually more impressed with Mills because I had no idea his technique is as solid as it is in so many areas. He looks extremely comfortable under the bright lights.

“I’m very anxious to watch the film, but from where I was watching, it looked like Kyle did some good things,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We’ve been very excited about Jordan Mills in practice, and the right side of the line looked solid. They weren’t getting pushed back, and I’m looking forward to the film.”

The offense, unfortunately, also gave us two huge concerns. The pick Jay Cutler threw to Donald Butler was inexcusable in any system and under any coach.

I asked Cutler if it was a misread, and he said, “I didn’t misread it, I knew what I was doing. I just need to check that ball down and not make that mistake.”

But if he knew what he was doing, why did he make a throw he never should have made?

Problem No. 2 is in spite of the good outing for the two rookie linemen, the offense’s 185 total yards usually will get you beat.

“Part of the problem was once Matt [Blanchard] got hurt, our main concern in the second half was just to keep Josh [McCown] safe,” Trestman said.

But that doesn’t answer for the poor first-half production.

Defensively, Jon Bostic had another signature play, starting the second half by separating Chargers receiver Mike Willie from the ball, and several body parts, with a vicious but perfectly clean and timed hit. Very exciting stuff.

But he also was caught going the wrong way and/or a step too slow in reacting multiple times in the first half. Khaseem Greene failed to take a step forward and was far less visible than last week. These two won’t grade out as well as Long and Mills.

Beyond that, Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin had nice nights. A win there, but none of the backup tackles or DBs distinguished themselves.

Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at harkush@shawmedia.com.



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