Hoge’s Notes: Offensive Line Could Be Set With Long, Mills
By Adam Hoge-
OAKLAND (CBS) — If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
At this point, the Bears coaching staff has to be thinking that way when it comes to a Bears offensive line that hasn’t looked this good in a few years.
For the second week in a row, the Bears’ offensive line performed well with two rookies on the right side, and with many of the veteran starters set to sit out the preseason finale Thursday, it appears the starting five on the line could be set.
Bears head coach Marc Trestman already confirmed this week that left tackle Jermon Bushrod, left guard Matt Slauson and center Roberto Garza will be three of the starters. The only remaining questions were at right guard and right tackle where Kyle Long and Jordan Mills got their second straight start Friday night and once again looked good.
So are they ready to start?
“I hope so,” quarterback Jay Cutler, who wasn’t sacked Friday night, said. “They played well tonight. They get better and better each week. The thing about them is they want to do it. They’re excited about it. It matters to them and they’re getting better, so I don’t see why not.”
Trestman didn’t name Long and Mills the definite starters after Friday night’s game and both are sure to get work Thursday against the Browns, but the rookies have now been with the first-team offense for two-thirds of the preseason and have looked good doing it.
Barring injury, it would be surprising if they don’t both start Week 1 against the Bengals.
Watch Out For Forte
Few players in the NFL look as good as Matt Forte does right now.
The running back has 149 rushing yards on just 15 carries so far in the preseason and also had a 32-yard touchdown catch Friday night against the Raiders.
“He’s scary out there, man,” Cutler said. “He’s doing a great job for us. I think he’s getting more and more comfortable with the running lanes and the blocking schemes we’re putting him in.”
The speculation all offseason was that Forte would blossom in Trestman’s system and if the preseason is any indication, the running back is in for a big year.
It’s been a rough preseason for Fendi Onobun, who has received five targets and has nothing to show for it. After dropping a touchdown pass against the Panthers earlier in the preseason, Onobun dropped two more passes Friday and has drown the ire of Bears fans.
But believe it or not, it still might be too early to assume he’ll be cut in the coming week. Onobun’s primary job is blocking, which he’s proven to be pretty good at. Still, in this offense, the Bears need him to make a play by catching the ball every once in a while and so far he hasn’t shown the ability to do that.
Friday night, while Onobun was struggling, fellow tight end Martellus Bennett was seen on the sideline trying to encourage the youngster to keep his head up.
“We played basketball together in high school. We’ve been friends together for a long time,” Bennett said after the game. “I think what happens when you’re young and you want to do so well, sometimes you psyche yourself out. He’s very, very talented. Everyone wants him to do well. He wants to do well, and I think he wants it so bad that he’s rushing instead of taking his time.”
Time is something Onobun might be running out of. The good news is that no one else has really stood out at the tight end position yet and as long as he can block, he might still have a chance.
– Charles Tillman, who only has three sacks in his career, came free on a blitz and sacked Matt Flynn in the first half. The Bears’ corners didn’t blitz a whole lot under Lovie Smith, but it appears to be something Mel Tucker will use in his system.
– J’Marcus Webb can’t be feeling comfortable right now. He was called for both a holding and false start penalty Friday night, something that has plagued him in the past. If Jonathan Scott is able to return from his knee procedure this week, Webb could be in trouble when it comes to making the 53-man roster.
– Rookie wide receiver Marquess Wilson saw time with the first team and looked pretty good. He caught a nice pass from Jay Cutler in traffic for a 16-yard gain and certainly helped his case to make the team.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.