In the course of 10 NFL seasons, four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff has seen greatness. He still asks for and swaps game jerseys with the rare linemen who have impressed him in a game.
And he doesn’t impress easily. His NFL career began as a teammate of, lining up every day in Dallas Cowboys practice against, and being mauled by, Larry Allen, considered by many to be the greatest guard in NFL history, supported by his 2013 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“In my opinion Kyle could be one of the best ever,” Ratliff told CSNChicago.com on Tuesday. “This is his third year; man, he’s only going to get better from here.”
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
Larry Allen-level best ever?
Mmmm, let’s wait on that one.
“That’s a whole ‘nother tax bracket there,” Ratliff said, laughing. “Kyle could be ONE of the best to do it. But don’t go saying I’m saying he’s better than Larry Allen. I played against Larry and that’s a whole ‘nother monster.”
During Monday’s one-on-one pass-protection period, Ratliff went head to head with Long. It was not cordial in the least. The two went at each other right to the echo of the whistle, and for a moment, two of the consensus Bears toughest guys looked ready to take it a nasty next level.
Then it eased, with each continuing their battle with playful hand-fighting, followed by a hug and shared nice-job pats. Thinking about Long, Ratliff just threw back his head and laughed.
“He’s heavy, man, he’s heavy, in so many ways,” Ratliff said, shaking his head. “It’s very rare that you have a guard that athletic, that strong and has long arms and knows how to use it all.
“He really loves what he does. He goes at it hard, doesn’t like to lose, he’s a competitor. I think he definitely does have a mean streak and that’s good in a guy.”