Bears tackle Kyle Long named to third straight Pro Bowl


Bears tackle Kyle Long named to third straight Pro Bowl

In the days before the 2015 game one against the Green Bay Packers, the Bears decided two-time Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long would suddenly become a tackle. Later in the season coach John Fox was clear: Kyle Long is a tackle.

The NFL apparently agrees, naming Long to his third straight Pro Bowl, this time as a tackle and replacing Philadelphia’s Jason Peters, who is out because of injury.

Long, who becomes the Bears’ sole representative in the Pro Bowl at this point, was surprised when his cell phone rang on Thursday and it was Fox calling, leaving a message to call him and it was “urgent.”

Long returned Fox's call and was treated to the news that, for all of his struggles at times in his “rookie” year at tackle, he was a Pro Bowl’er again.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“It just makes me realize how great a fan base we have and appreciative of the voters week to week, the guys around me on the team,” Long said. “I can’t say enough about the guys on the team and the coaching.”

Long had said privately before the season that his personal goal was to be the first guard to be named to Pro Bowls in his first 10 seasons. The 2013 Bears No. 1 pick, 20th overall, is still on track for his 10-goal, but this one comes at a position he admits he wasn’t all that keen on before the change came.

After strong play early against the likes of Khalil Mack from Oakland and Justin Houston of Kansas City, Long had his difficult moments as well in the closing weeks. But the overall is what the Bears, and ultimately he, wanted in the way of performance.

“I think I made a big sacrifice in my career and I think this was, in a roundabout way, a reward for it,” Long said. “Unfortunately I dealt with a lot of growing pains and I’ve owned it. It’s been part of the learning process and I’ve tried to be positive every day.

“It’s been a fun process this year and there’ve been tough times, but Hawaii’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Long is the first Bears offensive lineman ever to receive Pro Bowl honors in his first three seasons. He also is the first since Brian Urlacher (2000-2002) to be named to Pro Bowls in his first three seasons, regardless of position, and the seventh Bear of all time to achieve that honor.

[MORE: Interest in Bears staff a strong positive statement by NFL]

Three of the last four are in the Hall of Fame, and Urlacher will be eligible in 2018, part of a class that will include Ray Lewis.

Long started all 16 games for the Bears this season at right tackle and was a part of a Bears offense that ranked third in franchise single-season history in completion percentage (63.9) and interception percentage (2.3), fourth in gross passing yards (3,843) and third-down percentage (42.5), fifth in net passing yards (3,660) and sixth in passer rating (89.7) and total net yards (5,514). Long helped protect QB Jay Cutler who had a career-high 92.3 passer rating while blocking for Matt Fortè, who finished ninth in the NFL this season averaging 99 yards from scrimmage per game.

“I’m just really appreciative of this and it’s a blessing to be able to represent the Bears in the Pro Bowl again,” Long said. As far as assessing his season, “when you have some separation from the season and time off, you get a chance to dissect the things you want to improve on for next year.

“That’s been the biggest thing for me since the break.”

Bears named to Pro Bowls in each of their first three NFL seasons:

G/T Kyle Long, 2013-15

LB Brian Urlacher, 2000-02

RB Gale Salers, 1965-67

LB Dick Butkus, 1965-67

TE Mike Ditka, 1961-63

RB Rick Casares, 1955-57

WR Harlon Hill, 1954-56

Matt Nagy doesn't care about being a players' coach

USA Today

Matt Nagy doesn't care about being a players' coach

Matt Nagy is a few days into his first training camp as an NFL head coach, and while he's earned praise from players up and down the Chicago Bears' roster, he said Sunday after practice that he's not concerned with being a player's coach.

"I don't care about the players' coach part," he said, "but I care that they respect me and our coaches. This isn't going to happen overnight, this is something I'm trying to build with the players.

"There's so much stuff that comes into this. There are little areas where were all growing and that's where I think the respect factor comes in for all coaches."

Nagy won't make any friends with his approach to practicing in bad weather. The first few days of Bears camp have been drenched by rain but Nagy hasn't moved practice indoors. Instead, he wants his team to get used to playing in the elements. Hardly a favor to the players, even if it will prepare them for bad weather games this season.

The Bears will debut Nagy and their new offense on August 2 against the Ravens in the Hall of Fame game. Starters will likely play only one series, if at all. 

Tarik Cohen on Matt Nagy: 'He's a swag coach'

USA Today

Tarik Cohen on Matt Nagy: 'He's a swag coach'

Tarik Cohen has a knack for explaining things in an entertaining way. His description of Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy was no exception.

"He's a swag coach," Cohen said after training camp practice on Sunday.

Nagy is definitely bringing a different kind of swagger to Chicago's sideline. Maybe it's his youthful optimism that's such a pleasant change of pace from his predecessor. Maybe it's because he's just a confident guy who knows his offense is going to score a lot of points.

Cohen said he and the rest of the guys on offense are starting to feel more comfortable with Nagy's system.

"I just feel like the offense is getting comfortable faster. Everybody is tuned in and the fact we have so many good guys at so many positions is making it easier for the offense."

Learning a new system is a challenge, but learning multiple positions in a new system can be a daunting task. And it's exactly the undertaking facing Cohen, who will line up all over the field for the Bears.

"I feel like it's more mental. Now I really think I have that down pat and know where I'm going when I come in the game."

The Bears conducted their first padded practice of training camp on Sunday, a milestone that represents the next step in developing timing and efficiency for Nagy's system.

"There's a lot of things not in pads like running routes, the run game for the linemen. With pads, those holes are more realistic and you can get your keys in. You know you can get hit now and have to keep your head on a swivel."