Kyle Long: Bears' Charles Leno is a 'big ball of clay' at LT
There's no need for the Chicago Bears to make Kyle Long go through another position switch in 2016. His transition from right guard to right tackle was a success, and Charles Leno turned out to be a pleasant surprise on the opposite edge.
Long sees Leno as a player who can be molded into a solid blind-side protector for the Bears.
I’ll give you [Bears head coach] John Fox. He’d say, ‘It’s the same position. You’re just on different sides.’ I think it is really hard to have that conversation with a guy like Charles Leno in our room. Because he is so talented and is so young. He is this big ball of clay and they just get to mold him how they want. I feel like they have done a great job with him so far and he played really well. I’ve got no issues being the best right tackle in the league. Doesn’t bother me.
Leno started the season as a backup, but the former seventh-round draft pick was thrown into the starting lineup when an aching back, an injured shoulder and a concussion finally caught up with Jermon Bushrod and forced him to the sideline early in the season. Leno played so well in his stead that the Bears kept Bushrod, a two-time Pro Bowler, on the bench for the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, Long made his third consecutive Pro Bowl while playing right tackle. He's 27 years old and Leno is only 24, so there's a bright future ahead for both of them.
With two talented young tackles protecting the edges, quarterback Jay Cutler should be comfortable in the pocket for the foreseeable future.