PRO FOOTBALL

Rookies Long, Mills help shield QB Cutler

2013-09-08T17:30:00Z 2013-09-09T23:41:11Z Rookies Long, Mills help shield QB CutlerAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
September 08, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Jay Cutler was sacked 38 times last season and spent as much time on the ground as Scott's Turf Builder.

Bears' management tried to play Mr. Fix-It. They whipped out their hammers, some nails, a few rolls of duct tape — and none of it worked.

So changes were made. Big changes. Coach Marc Trestman started rookies Kyle Long at guard and Jordan Mills at tackle on the right side Sunday against a Bengals' defensive line that had 43 of the team's 51 sacks last season.

But Cinci struck out Sunday. The Bears' O-line didn't allow a sack.

"They have extremely good players, so we just tried to relax, use our help, rely on our technique, and do the best we can to stymie that rush," Long said.

"There''s a lot of things I'd like to have back. I was comfortable in the preseason and I was just trying to find that comfort level today."

Mills couldn't hold back the excitement, his eyes big as grapefruit.

"It really helped having our great veterans around us ... Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Eben Britton, James Brown," he said.

"Going against the veteran defense in practice helped us so much. It slowed the game down when they talked to us. Even on the sidelines today, we were being helped along by veterans: 'Good job. Keep it up. Way to go.'"

Cutler completed 21 of 33 passes for 242 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception which the Bears got back when Tim Jennings recovered a Mohamed Sanu fumble at the Chicago 19 to set up a score in the 24-21 win.

"Chicago is a great team and I have great teammates," Mills said. "I was a little nervous. Coming from the hotel, I was OK. Then as it got closer and closer to Soldier Field, I started getting pregame jitters.

"(Roberto) Garza was next to me in the locker room, telling me I'd be fine but I was just sitting there, shaking. When the game began, I was fine. I settled down and took it one play at a time."

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