Kyle Long Speaks: Rejuvenation, Leadership, Love for James Daniels, More

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Kyle Long Speaks: Rejuvenation, Leadership, Love for James Daniels, More

Chicago Bears

We’ve had our share of false starts when it comes to Kyle Long’s return to the Chicago Bears’ offensive line, but it sounds like the team’s most accomplished lineman is ready to roll for the most important (preseason) game of the summer.

Long has been slowed due to various injuries in recent years, but the three-time Pro Bowler is lined up to be out there with his teammates against the Kansas City Chiefs in the all-important Preseason Week 3 dress rehearsal: “As much as the other guys are going to be out there, I’ll be out there,” Long said while meeting with the media on Thursday at Halas Hall. “I want to get more and more reps. As much as I can play, I’d like to play.”

The senior member of the Bears’ offense weighed in on a variety of other topics while meeting with the media. Here are some of the highlights, as well as some additional commentary.

Feeling Young, Great, and Rejuvenated

Injuries have caused some Bears fans to question Long’s toughness, but not us. And definitely not when you’re willing to play through five different injuries during a year where nothing was going right. Long enters the 2018 season with a clean slate and at the front lines of what is expected to be a refreshing, new offense. Most importantly, Long feels fine physically.

“I feel great, I feel young. I’m rejuvenated with this staff and with the youth we have in the locker room. It’s amazing when I first got here how much of a veteran team we had and now it’s such a young player led team and it’s fun to be around.”

Leadership By Example

Long has been a natural leader since arriving in Chicago and that’s not changing any time soon. There isn’t just one type of leadership style that is successful in sports (or in life), so I find myself drawn to Long’s style because it just screams about the value of accountability without literally screaming.

“I’m just another guy trying to do my job as best as possible. If I can help out younger guys, then great, if that’s what you consider a leadership role. But my job is to block people as best as possible and keep No. 10 clean.”

To be clear, Long is not “just another guy” in the Bears’ locker room. He is a three-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman (at two different positions) and a key cog at the line of scrimmage. A healthy Long could stabilize the collection of starting linemen, help running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen spring some big gains up the right side, aid in Mitch Trubisky’s development with strong protection, and help push the offense further away from the gobbledygook we have seen in recent years. That’s not something “just another guy” can accomplish.

Getting Philosophical Talking About No. 10

A happy relationship between a quarterback and his offensive line is the key to successful offensive football. And it sounds like Mitch Trubisky has that with Long. When asked about Trubisky’s growth, Long went a little deeper than you might have otherwise expected.

“Heavy lies the head that wears the crown, and he’s a guy who’s had to wear it from early on in his career and he’s done a great job with it. He’s somebody that can hold everybody accountable, including himself, and he does it with a lot of tact. He’s a great dude off the field and somebody you want to rally around on the field.”

Teammates have raved about Trubisky’s on-field leadership skills since he was a rookie. Commanding a huddle as a young quarterback isn’t easy, but Trubisky seems to have his teammates gravitating toward him for all the right reasons. It surely wasn’t easy for Trubisky to take control of a locker room when he started the year as a third-stringer behind Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez, but the University of North Carolina product clearly scored points by how he worked his way into the lineup the good ol’ fashioned way – by out-playing his competition.

James Daniels Gets Some Lineman Love

At some point, James Daniels is going to go from second-round pick to starting offensive lineman. What position Daniels will start at this year is still up in the air, as is his long-term home. The fact that we’re having this conversation and that Daniels could conceivably start (and project to play well) at two different spots on the line says everything we need to know about why the Bears drafted him when they did. Long seems to have come away with the rookie, too.

“He’s just learning every day. He’s done a great job of working. He doesn’t say much, but he’s all ears all the time. He’s a good guy. He’s a good rookie. I think he’s just a quiet guy and he’s a smart guy. They say the quiet guys are the smart ones and he’s one of those dudes.

You can check out the rest of the press conference below:

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.