Coward Aims To Stay Steady As Bears' New Guard

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- Making his first career start Sunday, new Bears right guard Rashaad Coward found himself lined up across from Saints four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Cam Jordan.

"On one play, I tried to kill Cam and he swam me," Coward said. "I told myself, 'Just be less aggressive. You're being too aggressive. Be balanced.' After that, it was no problem. I just calmed down." 

The steadiness of Coward is part of why the Bears turned to him as their new right guard. He has been tasked with filling the void of three-time Pro Bowl lineman Kyle Long, who was placed on injured reserve last week due to a hip injury.

Long, 30, has likely played his last snap in a Bears uniform. Could Coward be the long-term answer at right guard? It's certainly something that was hard to imagine two seasons ago.

The Bears converted Coward from the defensive line to the offensive line in 2018. He didn't play a game in 2018 but worked behind the scenes under the watch of offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.

When Long was shut down, the Bears looked to the 25-year-old Coward, whom Hiestand called "very prideful" and "very determined."

"He works hard," center James Daniels said. "Every day he comes here, he looks to improve. He's doing a good job, and he's done a good job."

Coward struggled to appreciate his first NFL start in the aftermath of Sunday. The Bears suffered an ugly 36-25 loss to the Saints, and their sputtering offense is still searching for an identity.

The Bears attempted 54 passes and rushed just seven times, which meant Coward spent most of the game dropping back instead of pushing forward. Still, the center Daniels and right tackle Bobby Massie came to appreciate how Coward handled the pre-snap communication -- especially against a Saints defensive front that uses a variety of stunts.

"It was different," Massie said. "I've played besides Kyle for four years and played beside Rashaad for four days."

Where the Bears go at right guard remains to be seen. In addition to Coward, they also have an established veteran in Ted Larsen and an undrafted rookie in Alex Bars developing in practice.

Coward is getting the first shot in Long's place. After working hard to get here, he isn't changing anything.

"Just have fun at the end of the day," Coward said. "You're going to miss plays, you're going to make mistakes. It's how you come back from it."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.