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Sports

August 21, 2013

NFL: Bears to stick with youngsters

Rookie linemen Long and Mills will start again this week against Oakland

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The raw right side of Chicago’s offensive line will get another chance Friday night to gain experience against first-string defenders.

Without yet officially anointing rookie right guard Kyle Long and rookie right tackle Jordan Mills the opening day starters, Bears coach Marc Trestman on Monday said the two will get to follow their starts last week against San Diego by starting at Oakland in the third preseason game. Starters for Week 3 of the preseason usually start on opening day.

“The right side of the line, we’ll keep it the same this week,” Trestman said. “There were enough good things that happened (against San Diego) that we feel like we want to give them another opportunity to go out and play a little bit more against the first group and see what they can do.”

Jay Cutler was sacked twice on the team’s first series against the Chargers, but neither sack came from players lined up against the rookies.

“They were athletic, they were physical,” Trestman said of Long and Mills. “Jordan got to play against (Dwight) Freeney for a couple snaps and learned a lot in those couple snaps.

“Just overall, there was an upside in assignments, physicality and athleticism. We’re not ready to pass judgment yet, overall. We’re just going to let this thing play itself out.”

Long had been battling second-year guard/tackle James Brown for the starting spot, while Mills took J’Marcus Webb’s spot last week after Webb allowed a sack in the preseason opener with Carolina.

A Chicago Tribune report said the Bears negotiated a pay cut for Webb from $1.323 million to $630,000, indicating they may think of him more as a backup now.

Another rookie who appears to be prepping for an opening day start is middle linebacker Jonathan Bostic. Starter D.J. Williams has been out since the first week of practice with a right calf injury, and Trestman said Bostic will go again this week.

Trestman also indicated he’s expecting to get Williams back at practice “... in the next 12-14 days or better.”

If that holds true, Bostic should be the opening day starter.

“I’m nowhere near where I want to be and nowhere near where I need to be,” said Bostic, who has an interception, TD return and a big hit on a receiver to show for two preseason games. “And it’s about being able to go out there and put this uniform on opening day, and I still got a lot of work to do.

“I’m learning from D.J. Even though D.J. is out right now he’s getting a lot of mental reps and he’s coaching me up as well.”

The Bears are without starting defensive tackle Henry Melton and backup receiver Earl Bennett due to concussions. Neither practiced Monday.

The offense got its first work with new third-string quarterback candidates Trent Edwards and Jordan Palmer. The two were signed after third-string QB Matt Blanchard broke his left hand in the 33-28 preseason win over San Diego.

Trestman indicated Palmer will play in the last part of Friday’s game, then he’ll let both Palmer and Edwards play extensively while resting Cutler and backup Josh McCown against Cleveland in the preseason finale.

The Bears had worked out Palmer, Edwards and former Raider Jamarcus Russell in June in case they needed another QB.

Edwards, who started 33 games in Buffalo from 2007-2010, said he’s familiar with a little of the offense, but his recent experience in Philadelphia is not a help.

“I learned Chip Kelly’s offense for two weeks when I was there in April,” he said. “I played under Andy Reid for the last season. Those two systems are way different. It’s just a matter of trying to pick it up. I’ve played in a variety of different systems. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”

Palmer, who has thrown 10 NFL passes with Cincinnati and Jacksonville, was working in an office interviewing interns two days ago before getting the call from Chicago.

“I had a good preseason in Jacksonville last year, so I’m looking to build on that and help us win some preseason games,” said Palmer, younger brother of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.

 

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