LAKE FOREST – Bears draft picks have plenty of obstacles to overcome in the next few months while trying to fit onto the roster.
In Kyle Long’s case, there is an extra challenge.
The team’s drafted and undrafted rookies, along with a handful of recently signed free-agent veterans, began the process of fitting in at rookie minicamp Friday. For Long, the three days of practices are the only chance he gets to work out with the Bears until training camp in late July.
Oregon operates on a quarters system and finals conclude June 14, one day after the last day of Bears’ full-squad minicamp. So he will miss all the May and June workouts. An NFL rule allows players to take part in rookie camps but prohibits them from participating in OTAs and minicamps until classes end.
“Obviously, I’m behind the eight-ball a little bit because I won’t be able to be here with the team,” Long said. “But I have somebody (to work with) in place and I’ll have the installations ahead of time. It’s kind of like if you’re missing a week of school and you’re sick. You want to get the lesson plan from your teacher ahead of time. That’s kind of how I’m treating this.”
Something similar happens to players all over the NFL each year, especially from Pac-12 schools. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had a similar situation last year.
“Kyle is a very smart guy,” new Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We know he’s going to dig in and do everything he can to get himself ready – not just physically, but mentally – as we get to our veteran minicamp and the training camp. I think it’s a minimal obstacle and nothing we can’t handle.”
The situation with Long is trickier because he lacks extensive major college experience, let alone NFL camp experience. He had only five starts at Oregon after playing junior college ball.
“I mean, we’ve got a lot of different ways of communicating with him,” Trestman said. “There’s webinars out there. We can show tape to him and sit in a meeting with him and watch tape with him right on a computer. We’ve got all the technology to do that. He’s working with an NFL line coach who has been in the league a long time, who is good. And (offensive coordinator/line coach) Aaron (Kromer) and him are specifically working on the key things.”
The Bears line has been a problem for years, with 148 sacks of quarterback Jay Cutler since he arrived as a free agent in 2009. They sought to improve it in free agency by signing former Saints tackle Jermon Bushrod and former Jets guard Matt Slauson in addition to drafting Long, the son of former Raiders defensive lineman Howie Long.
Kyle Long said there will be things he’ll just have to overcome once he gets to training camp in Bourbonnais.
“Just getting the unspoken communication with your teammates, that’s the one thing I’ll be lacking,” he said. “Once I get in here and get reps, it’ll be better.”
Long played left tackle and guard for Oregon last year, but his first exposure to the Bears offense was at right guard.
“My hand’s still on the ground and I’m still supposed to block somebody, so not really,” Long said. “It’s just a different side.”
Middle linebacker Jon Bostic from Florida was the team’s second-round pick and Rutgers outside linebacker Khaseem Greene the fourth-round pick. Both will have to wait to play or overcome veterans.
Veteran free agent D.J. Williams was signed to replace Brian Urlacher and Bostic will have to contend with him. Greene would have to beat out former Carolina Panther James Anderson on the strong side or eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs on the weak side.
Bostic was just glad to be on a practice field after all the hoopla associated with the NFL draft.
“My main thing is getting my run fits first,” he said. “I want to be able to stop the run. I couldn’t wait to get up here. It’s getting back to football. I was tired of the wine-and-dine stuff. I like more of this part.”
Greene, who said he plans to shed five pounds to get to 240, set an NCAA record with 15 forced fumbles and joins a team among the best in the NFL at causing turnovers. He sees the Bears emphasis much like the one his college team had.
“When you make that second nature to you, it just happens naturally,” he said of forced turnovers. “So I think a lot of the times I just do it without thinking. I see an opportunity and go do it.”
Notes: Only Long remains unsigned among the six Bears draft picks. Bostic signed Thursday. ... A total of 33 players received tryouts, including former UCLA safety Dalton Hilliard, son of former Saints running back Dalton Hilliard. ... Also in camp on a tryout basis is center James Ferentz, son of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. ... The Bears brought in only one extra quarterback for the camp beyond their own third-stringer, Matt Blanchard. It was St. Xavier’s Jimmy Coy.