Bears shift rookies Mills, Long into starting roles

Bears first-round choice Kyle Long will vie for a starting spot.

Bears first-round choice Kyle Long will vie for a starting spot.

Youth will be served during the first-year of new head coach Marc Trestman’s regime of the Chicago Bears. After watching sloppy offensive line play in the Bears preseason opener at Carolina, rookie right tackle Jordan Mills and first-round guard Kyle Long will line up with the first team in workouts and the second preseason game against San Diego at Soldier Field on Thursday evening.

Incumbent right tackle J’Marcus Webb struggled with the same inconsistency he played with last season, allowing pressure and a sack to the Panthers Charles Johnson on Friday. Whether the coaching staff has lost confidence or is just trying to light a fire underneath Webb remains to be seen, but Trestman expressed his desire to at least open up the competition.”I wouldn’t draw any conclusions about what’s happened today (Sunday’s practice),” Trestman said. “It really is part of our plan to find the best five over the course of training camp, and in Week 2 (of preseason) this is the way we’re starting.”

Mills, the fifth-round draft choice from Louisiana Tech, has impressed with his high football IQ and steady play throughout camp. The Slant…2013 NFL Draft Guide, profiled him as “an under the radar prospect who may turn into a better pro than collegian. He combines good size and strength while displaying excellent footwork and leverage.” On the downside, Mills did show a “propensity to grab, leading to holding calls, and can be inconsistent with his technique.”

Mills was surprised at his promotion, but didn’t get too caught up in the moment. “It was unexpected, but you have to be ready in the NFL if somebody goes down or they want to make a switch,” said Mills, who started 34 games the last four seasons at Louisiana Tech. “I was prepared and ready.”

As for Long, the 21st overall pick in April’s draft, he continues to improve on a weekly basis despite¬† limited experience. After splitting time in camp with second-year pro James Brown, Long made the most of his 51 snaps against Carolina. Trestman thought he had a good presence on the field and communicated well with offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer regarding adjustments.

Bear Tracks: The Bears will be without DT Henry Melton for awhile as he goes throught the NFL concussion protocol. WR Earl Bennett remains out….Newly signed LS Brandon Hartson and S Derrick Martin participated in their first practices Sunday afternoon. Hartson is a fill-in for veteran LS Pat Mannelly, while Martin will try to make the squad as a nickel back….Trestman indicated starters would play the first quarter of Thursday’s game with the Chargers.

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