BOURBONNAIS – He is not a starting NFL guard yet, but Kyle Long’s development after missing virtually all of the offseason because of NFL rules has been enough for the rookie offensive lineman to be slotted as a co-starter at the position with James Brown going into next Friday’s first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
Brown has gotten an apparent larger share of snaps with the No. 1 offense. But Long continues to impress even amid his expected rookie mistakes and can join Gabe Carimi (2011) as the only day one rookie offensive-line starters since Troy Auzenne at left tackle 20 years ago.
“I think Kyle is working in an ascending manner, better every day and it’s not just happening slowly,” said coach Marc Trestman.
Jonathan Bostic, the Bears No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, will start in Carolina with veteran D.J. Williams still in a walking boot for a worrisome calf injury. Bostic’s progress has been noticeable in just the week since he took over for Williams and chances are good that Williams will have some difficulty winning his job back.
“I think [Bostic is] playing faster,” said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. “His alignments are better, just more detailed, more precise in what he’s doing. Those are some things that you look for.”
Tackles Jermon Bushrod (calf) and Jonathan Scott (knee) both took part in some limited individual drills. But neither was allowed into pass-protection drills or team sessions as Eben Britten remained at left tackle with the No. 1 offense. Britten was a day one rookie starter with Jacksonville in 2009 and remains at left tackle with Bushrod held back.
With only two more practices this week, Britten projects to start at Carolina with the Bears and Bushrod being careful to have an anchor of the offensive line fully healthy.
“I don’t think it’s out of the realm that [Bushrod] would play on Friday night but he would have to be 100 percent for us to even think about playing him,” Trestman said. “There is no need to push this. We’re going to be very patient. Doctors will tell us the condition he is in. We’ll evaluate on Thursday and Friday morning and see where we’re at.”
Elsewhere on the depth chart, which is still in a molten state at this point of a preseason, Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin are listed as co-starters at left defensive end. Wootton, however, has held an edge in playing time with the No. 1 defense, with both playing as part of the Bears’ nickel unit.
Rookie sixth-rounder Cornelius Washington is listed with the No. 2 defense, competing for a roster spot with Cheta Ozougwu.
The four-man group at defensive tackle has starters Stephen Paea, held out on Monday for tightness in his hip and Henry Melton backed up by Nick Collins and Corvey Irvin, whose NFL career began as an undrafted free agent signing with the Carolina Panthers in 2010.