Kyle Long says he will put in the time and effort to earn starting guard spot
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org April 26, 2013 9:42PM
Chicago Bear's Kyle Long (center) is introduced to the media with Chicago Bear general manager Phil Emery (left) and head coach Marc Trestman. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 30, 2013 2:35PM
Kyle Long estimates that his football IQ was a “zero” when he first arrived at Oregon.
“I had never been exposed to terminology,” Long said.
At first, Long, whom the Bears selected with the 20th overall selection in this year’s draft, didn’t want to say anything. He never raised his hand. He never asked a question.
But Long knew that had to change.
“I couldn’t draw an under-and-over front until halfway through the season, and I never wanted to speak up about it because I didn’t want coach to think I was an idiot,” Long said Friday at Halas Hall. “Obviously, I could go out there, I can come off the ball, I can be physical and I can attack people. And that was all well and good, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, then you’re not going to have success, especially at this next level.
“It’s not about can you block the guy, it’s who you’re blocking and how you’re going to do it. That’s been my emphasis the last few months and during the offseason, trying to really polish myself as a student of the game.”
How far has he come?
In his predraft visit with the Bears, Long sat with offensive coordinator and line guru Aaron Kromer and “got on the greaseboard,” drawing formations and going over assignments.
Clearly, the Bears were as impressed with what Long did with his mind as they were with his Senior Bowl performance.
“I feel extremely comfortable with that,” said Long, who the Bears see as an immediate contributor at guard. “I finally applied myself [at Oregon]. I finally raised my hand and said, ‘Hey look, I don’t know what’s going on. Somebody want to teach me?’
“With the help of [Oregon offensive line coach Steve] Greatwood at Oregon and [veteran NFL line coach and former Bears coach] Tony Wise, I’ve been able to increase my knowledge of the game exponentially.”
It was Long’s limited playing time that made many project him as a second-rounder. But his father Howie Long, a Fox NFL analyst, didn’t see him lasting too long past the Bears, especially with the run on offensive linemen.
‘’I kind of felt like — and I won’t share the two or three teams that were picking after Chicago — but I felt like it was a really good opportunity that Kyle would go between 20-28, 29, without tipping my hand,” Howie Long said at Halas Hall. “But he would have been off the board. ... I’ve heard people say they should have traded down and got him in the second round. He wouldn’t have been there.”
Kyle Long understands the expectations that come with being a first-rounder.
“The main goal for anybody that is drafted is you want to come in and earn the respect of your teammates and your coaches,” said Long, who received texts from Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall welcoming him.
It’s that mentality that landed him a starting job at Oregon and put him on the NFL radar. Long said it unfortunately took an injury to open the door, but after spending the first eight games of last season rotating at left tackle, he wanted more and went to his coaches.
“I told them I was going to be starting,” said Long, who had only played left tackle before then. “We had a guy go down and I jumped at the opportunity. I was hungry to play.”
Long knows he’s a raw player. He’s described himself as such more than once. But he sees growth.
“I am what I am, but I have the ability to learn,” Long said. “I feel like I’m a pretty bright kid and I have the physical skills and tools to be able to have success as a football player.”