BOURBONNAIS -- Call it the “new” NFL, the “digital” NFL, where you work on your guard play by remote dial-in and a form of on-field video teleconferencing.
Such was the offseason of 2013 for Kyle Long, Bears guard.
The rookie taken No. 20 in the first round of this year’s draft was enjoined from practicing with his team during OTA’s and the final minicamp because of NFL rules requiring a draftee’s college class to have finished its year. Long did attend the team’s rookie minicamp in early May, then was sent home with a playbook and an electronic hookup.
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So when the Bears practiced, Long was “there” even when he couldn’t be.
“Whenever they had an OTA I would get up in the morning and because I was on the West Coast it would be few hours earlier than what they were waking up doing here,” Long explained on arriving Wednesday for the start of his first NFL training camp.
“I would be up and they would just put the cell phone in the front of the meeting and I would be able to see the screen and hear all the coaches’ instructions, any questions the players would have. I’d get some heckling from some of the players, ‘Who is this guy on the cell phone in the meeting?’”
Long will be in one of the only true job competitions of this Bears camp, competing against undrafted free agent James Brown who started the final three games of last season after failures by Chris Spencer (twice), Chilo Rachal and Edwin Williams.
J’Marcus Webb has not been declared the starter at right tackle but he spent the offseason practices with the No. 1 offense while Jonathan Scott was No. 2.
If there was any question why a guard at No. 20: The Bears had four different starters at left guard and three at right. Spencer, Gabe Carimi and Lance Louis are all gone.
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Ironically, one of the criticisms of the Long selection was that the Oregon lineman had started just five games for the Ducks. That would be five games more than Brown in his college career, which was spent at left tackle for Troy.
Long has a size edge at 6-6, 315, compared to Brown at 6-4, 306.
The study via Internet was a start. The next step has nothing to do with electronics.
“Work hard. Keep my mouth shut and just play football and earn the respect of the guys around me,” Long said. “I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes. I am just here to work hard and try to get some playing time.”
That will start Friday morning.