Kyle Long’s return to the Chicago Bears’ offensive line will be welcomed with open arms, even if it took a little longer than expected.
Earlier in the week, head coach John Fox said he was hoping to get Kyle Long and two other starters back for the team’s Week 3 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and it looks like that will be the case. And for Long, it will have been a long time coming.
Long hasn’t played since November 2016 when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Though, for a while, it appeared as if he would be ready to roll out of the gates for the season opener against the Falcons.
Unfortunately, it never came to fruition as Long was limited in practice for two weeks and left off the active roster in both of the team’s first two losses.
One reason for the delay in his return comes courtesy of Long himself:
Kyle Long admits he tried to push it a little too much in training camp. Backed off to get ankle right. #Bears hope he's back Sunday.
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) September 20, 2017
Long overcame the hard part of offseason rehab and entered training camp with the idea of preparing for Week 1. But as it turns out, Long’s hard-charging efforts came too fast, thus, a setback occurred.
In his absence, the Bears have played Tom Compton, Cody Whitehair, and Bradley Sowell at left guard. And while they proved to play adequately at times, things took an ugly turn in Week 2 as Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy broke out with a stellar performance against the Bears’ interior line.
Speaking of which, the interior of the offensive line could be at full strength for the first time since last November if Long’s return is matched with a healthy Josh Sitton, who was limited in practice because of a rib injury suffered against the Buccaneers.
There is no doubt the Bears miss Long, even though they might not know exactly what they’ll get from a player starting in his third different position in as many years. Still, there shouldn’t be many questions about the ability of a three-time Pro Bowl lineman, one who has made a successful position change before and appears to be ready to do it again.