Feisty Kyle Long has to maintain his cool
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter November 28, 2013 9:47PM
Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long (75) is involved in a scuffle during the second quarter of an NFL football game between the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ORG XMIT: MOJR
Updated: November 29, 2013 6:24PM
The Bears want guard Kyle Long to be a little smarter than he was last week when he attempted to pummel Rams defensive end William Hayes in a fit of pique that drew a 15-yard penalty and a $7,875 fine from the NFL. But they still want him to be Kyle Long.
‘‘He knows he can’t do that,’’ guard Matt Slauson said. ‘‘But we also want Kyle to be Kyle. He brings that to our line, and that’s big.’’
Slauson acknowledged that can be a fine line for a player of Long’s ability and temperament. But his teammates help keep the rookie in check without diluting the gusto that makes Long a lineman the team eventually will build around.
‘‘We want him to go hard all the time,’’ Slauson said. ‘‘But we have to constantly tug on that leash a little bit, like, ‘C’mon now — a little less.’ But he’s good.’’
For his part, Long is happy to get last week’s eventful game behind him. Long not only suffered the embarrassment of losing his cool in front of his family, but he missed a block on a critical fourth-and-goal play at the 1-yard line. And his team lost.
‘‘I’m just focusing on the Vikings,’’ Long said Thursday before leaving Halas Hall to host a Thanksgiving dinner — with a helping hand from his mother — for linemate Jordan Mills and other teammates. ‘‘It was fun to play against my brother. I’m happy that the week has come and gone. Obviously, I’m disappointed we didn’t win. Credit [the Rams]. They played a great game. But now we’re moving on to Minnesota.’’
Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said he’s concerned whenever any player snaps as Long did against the Rams.
‘‘You’ve got to correct it,’’ Kromer said. ‘‘You can’t have a guy get a 15-yard penalty because he takes the law into his own hands.’’
But he didn’t have to say much to Long about the incident.
‘‘Kyle is a good-hearted guy and a mature guy,’’ Kromer said. ‘‘He knew right away, ‘Gosh, I wish I wouldn’t have snapped.’ But in the heat of the moment, a young player who plays with an emotional passion as he does — he lost his mind, and that’s not him.
‘‘But by the time he got to the sideline, he was already apologetic and was worried he hurt the team. So there wasn’t much to say to him. He knows. And he knew then. And he’s really working hard to fix that so it doesn’t happen again.’’
Now Long can get back to a rookie season that, by most accounts, has met or exceeded expectations.
‘‘I’m happy with the progress I’m making,’’ Long said, ‘‘but I’ll never be content with it because that’s just how I am. I’m happy with how this unit and this offense have come together. We continue to get better.’’
There’s still a lot to learn, of course.
‘‘Yes, we will make that block [on the goal-line play] next time,’’ Long said. ‘‘Those are small lessons. That’s one of those plays you learn from where you wish you didn’t have to learn from. You wish you had it. [But] you live and learn.’’