BOURBONNAIS – The first shock waves from Friday night’s preseason opener rippled across the practice fields on Sunday as the Bears installed two rookies with the No. 1 offensive line and demoted right tackle J’Marcus Webb.
Kyle Long, off a strong game and two full quarters of snaps against Carolina, took all of the first-team reps at right guard on Sunday after playing 51 of the Bears’ 60 snaps vs. the Panthers. James Brown had started the Carolina game and had taken the majority of first-team snaps in practices prior to Sunday.
“[Long] really did well and did some good things,” coach Marc Trestman said. “Made some mistakes but he had a good presence about him, he was good on the sideline, he was able to explain to Aaron [Kromer, offensive coordinator] what was going on out there. It was a good sign.”
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More surprising perhaps, fifth-round draft choice Jordan Mills vaulted from the No. 3 offensive line to right tackle alongside fellow rookie Long.
“Since we’ve been working together a lot with the 2’s and 3’s, it was a good transition,” Long said. “I think they’re just trying to throw us in there and see what we can do. It was a lot of fun today to go against the ones, see some different faces, just another day to try and get better.”
Mills started all 12 games last season at right tackle for Louisiana Tech and was named All-Western Athletic Conference first-team by coaches. He started 13 games at right tackle as a junior and was also a first-team All-Conference player in his first year as a full-time starter.
He set aside his own self-criticism to say what coaches clearly saw:
“I did pretty good [at Carolina],” Mills said. “I’m my worst critic so I think I did OK, coach said I did pretty good, now I just have to keep working and get my technique down.
“[Coaches] wanted to see how good I was doing. [The promotion to No. 1 offense] was unexpected but you have to be ready in the NFL if somebody goes down or they want to make a switch out you have to be prepared and ready, and I was prepared and ready.”
J Webb nation down
Webb did not seem to be as ready for the shuffle that sent him to left tackle with the second string, with Eben Britton working at right tackle with the No. 2 unit. Britton and Webb each were beaten for sacks by the Panthers.
Coach Marc Trestman said the move was not intended to send any message to Webb. However, Trestman also said Mills is expected to get most of the work at right tackle with the 1’s this week and could earn the start next Thursday against San Diego.
"I think we've been very clear with J'Marcus about what we're doing. I said it last week that there's been an up and down performance level by J'Marcus but we were still going to do this," he said.
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The demotion appeared to leave Webb a bit unsettled, and as far as his own expectations for opening day, “I’m not totally sure,” he said. “I’m willing to help at any position on the offensive line, the tackle position definitely. I’ll take a look at film and focus on getting better.”
Webb said he played through the first quarter of the Carolina game and did not take issue with the move being made based on not enough snaps. He said coaches did not express any dissatisfaction to him and that the move was being made to get him work at both right and left tackle.
Trestman had been candid last week that Webb needed to show greater consistency. His overall play has been somewhat disappointing given that he is returning to his more natural position, but some have questioned his work ethic once job pressure lessened with the knee injury to Jonathan Scott, who is still unable to practice.
“I think we've been very clear with J'Marcus about what we're doing,” Trestman said. “I said it last week that there's been an up-and-down performance level by J'Marcus but we were still going to do this.”