When the Chicago Bears decided to move a Pro Bowl right guard to right tackle a week before opening day, it caused some worry amongst fans and media alike. We all knew that Kyle Long was going to be a steady rock on Chicago's interior, but out at tackle his inexperience would be tested.
That first week Long had a rough first assignment matched up with Pro Bowler Julius Peppers. Long struggled in that game, but he improved as the season wore on.
He improved so much that he was picked as an alternate to the Pro Bowl at his new position, and due to an injury, Long was added to the Pro Bowl roster last week.
Sure the Pro Bowl is part popularity contest, but to say that Long didn't play at a Pro Bowl level in 2015 would be false. He did play at a Pro Bowl level, he just didn't play that way in all 16 games. When Long was bad, he was really bad (see the first Green Bay game, the Seattle game, the 1st Lions game, the Denver game). But when Long was good, he was really good (see the Oakland game and the Kansas City game where he played with a club-hand, the 2nd Packers game, the game against the Buccaneers).
Long had an up and down season, but he has the kind of work ethic that will push him to the Pro Bowl again in 2016 and then in 2017 and probably beyond. His technique can be improved, as evidenced by his work in the video above, but his functional strength and his hustle is already top notch.
Speaking of that clip above, that's Long working at LeCharles Bentley's O-line Performance facility in preparation for the Pro Bowl.
Here's a snippet from Bentley's Training Diary;
Skill training has to be quick and to the point. Some players need more time and attention to detail than others, but you don't want to spend extensive time going over the same material. This was a 45 minute session with Kyle. He is preparing for the Pro Bowl so today was a balancing act of correction, reinforcement and conditioning. Kyle is fresh off his 3rd NFL season, his first as a right tackle. Now isn't the time for massive overhauls of anything. Today was a day to get the body back moving, mentally re-engage to the art and reinforce movement patterns.
So whether the Bears decide to keep Long at right tackle, move him back inside to guard, or even flip him over to the left side, I'm fairly certain he'll find success.