When the Chicago Bears rookie lineman Kyle Long looks up on the line of scrimmage Sunday, there is a good chance he will see Geno Atkins staring back.
Long has done more than enough to earn the start at right guard in week one, but the level of competition he faced in the preseason was below average. In roughly three quarters against the starting defenses for San Diego and Oakland, Howie’s son did indeed look like a pro. Both teams did not take advantage of Long’s rookie mistakes, including the giving away of where he was going pre-snap.
Geno Atkins will have no problem reading rookie mistakes.
The Bengals just re-signed Atkins to a long-term contract because of his quick rise to stardom. In three seasons, the defensive tackle has gone from a promising rookie to 12.5 sacks and praise as arguably the best defensive lineman in football. For those that see his sack total and just shrug, understand that defensive tackles do not reach double-digit sack totals that often. Pro Football Focus even listed Geno Atkins as the second best interior defensive lineman of the past five years.
In case you forgot, Geno has only played in the last three.
On top of that, the Bengals defensive line is one of the best in football against the pass. Cincinnati has 51 sacks, according to Football Outsider’s stats, which led to an adjusted sack rate of 8.7%, tied for the best in the NFL. What better way for Kyle Long to get his feet wet (and head smacked) in the league than facing THE best line at getting to the quarterback?
Geno Atkins will not be planted in front of Long all day. Center Roberto Garza will see plenty of him from both sides, and new left guard Matt Slauson should see a good amount, as well. Do not be shocked to see Atkins record sacks coming from both sides of the defensive line.
Atkins may be impossible to contain, especially for a rookie like Kyle Long. If Long can contain Geno Atkins and use any added help to eliminate him from plays, then Chicago could do damage through the air. If that is not the case this coming Sunday, keep your fingers crossed that Jay Cutler can walk on Monday. Atkins vs. Long and the Bears’ offensive line will be interesting to watch, to say the least.
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