Kyle Long (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago…)
If Bears fans had any questions about first-round draft pick Kyle Long's mobility, they were answered Thursday at training camp in Bourbonnais. Near the end of an Armando Allen run, when most players had believed the play to be dead, safety Brandon Hardin popped the ball loose and began sprinting the other way. Trailing a step behind him was Long, who charged after Hardin like his job was on the line.
Hardin eventually pulled away, but for a bit there it looked as if Long would catch him. RedEye caught up with the 6-foot-6, 311-pound offensive lineman our of Oregon after practice, getting his thoughts on his transition to the NFL, training camp trash talk and the speed of the NFL.
This is your first NFL training camp. What are the big surprises?
Just the depth and complexity of the playbook. For a lot of guys who have been playing football longer than me, it's probably a little easier. It's been something I've been trying to pick up on, to learn more and more everyday.
Have you felt the brunt of any pranks so far?
Not a lot of stuff. Just carrying pads. Being subject to the brunt of some jokes. Subject to some ridicule, probably. You know, just the guys on defense talking smack. The older guys—in particular Peanut [Charles Tillman]. Peanut likes to give me crap.
What has he done? We've heard about him sneaking into guys' rooms ...
The other day I did a false start, and he said, "Give 'em their money back!" [Laughs.] I've never heard anything like that. So I have to develop some thick skin and roll with the punches, as they say.
Have you pranked anybody?
No. I'm subject to the pranks. I'm not trying to step on anybody's toes. We do stuff between the rookies. The rookies like to prank each other. I'm always messing with Jordan Mills. He's probably my best buddy on the team. We give each other a lot of crap.
What do you get him on?
Little stuff. Like he'll be on the phone with his girlfriend and I'll run in and rip his ear phones out. Just giving him hell. [Smiles.]
Do you have an offensive line protector? Someone who's got your back?
All the guys. [Roberto] Garza, [Jermon] Bushrod, J'Marcus [Webb], [Matt] Slauson. All these guys are doing a great job of looking out for the rookies, and I'm just really appreciative of that.
How much different is the speed in the NFL compared with college?
Everybody out here is fast. Everybody in college is fast. The difference is that everybody out here knows where to go, you know what I'm saying? It's more of a controlled speed, where people are doing the right thing, people are checking down, you know where you have help from, so adjustments happen a lot quicker. Everybody's fast.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
About 12 hours after this interview, Long returned to his dorm room to find a hairy, ten-legged visitor in his bed. Long told the tale on Instagram: "Either tarantulas are indigenous to Illinois, or I've been pranked very horribly and I will never sleep again."
Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor.
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