There are times where I’m not sure we (as a collective) have a complete grasp on what Kyle Long means to the Chicago Bears’ offensive line.
When healthy, Long is one of the best guards in football. He has mixes quickness and power to clear holes in the running game, while his high-end athleticism helps make him a top-notch blocker in pass protection. Not only has there been a drop-off in production when Long has missed time due to injuries, the Bears have often been forced to play musical chairs along the line and move players into positions that aren’t their best.
In an ideal world, we would find ourselves on the cusp of moving on from that, because Long is healthy and ready to contribute in a big way in 2018. But the world of sports injuries isn’t always ideal.
To that end, the three-time Pro Bowl lineman spoke to the assembled media on Tuesday as he accepted the Ed Block Courage award. After we get through the highlights, I encourage you to read Dan Wiederer (Tribune), Patrick Finley (Sun-Times), Bob LeGere (Pro Football Weekly), Kevin Fishbain (The Athletic), and Jeff Dickerson (ESPN) for a full scope of what was on Long’s mind.
- Long has never been short on confidence, and it says a lot that he feels how he does after having surgery on his neck, shoulder, and elbow since his season was cut short and ultimately placed on injured reserve. So while Long is unsure when he’ll be fully cleared, he seems certain he’ll be ready to roll once the games matter. “If it were up to me, I’d be full go right now. I feel as if I am. But there’s certain things that are time-sensitive that we have to follow a certain timeline with, the neck being one of them.”
- One thing no one wants to see is Long rush himself back into action (especially because he’s a gamer who’s already played through a bunch of different injuries and never once complained about it). Yes, Long is a valuable member of the offensive line. HOWEVER, his presence can’t be felt if he’s not in the lineup. As long as Long follows doctor’s orders, I imagine he’ll be ready to give it a go when he can.
- After three offseason surgeries, Long expects “no limitations” and that’s wonderful to hear. The perspective he provides considering the injuries he has been through is something else. Long credited his doctors and surgeons for their hard work, as well as his teammates who have kept him in good spirits. Hey, what are friends for … right? And by the sound of things, Long’s teammates were in for quite the surprise seeing the stud offensive lineman after surgery. “I love seeing the teammates and seeing the reaction on their face when I’m actually walking into the building and not in a wheelchair.”
- Beyond the medical update, what are Long’s first impressions of his new coach Matt Nagy:
Kyle Long on Matt Nagy: "Straight shooter, confident. He’s an offensive genius and if he can make Mitch’s job easier I’m all for it."
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) April 3, 2018
- Long was limited to a handful of games protecting for Mitch Trubisky during the quarterback’s rookie season, but he still came away feeling good about what the future holds in Year 2 and beyond. “I can’t put words to it. What Mitch Trubisky was born with is something that not a lot of people were born with. I can’t explain it. When you’re around him, you feel it, and it’s real. Quiet confidence and a sense of calm and ‘comfortability’ with the situation — any situation he’s put in.”
- Over at The Athletic, Fishbain shares a rather refreshing quote from Long regarding the Ed Block Courage Award. “I think the more that we can do for others, the better off we’ll be for ourselves. I think any impact we can have on another person’s life and an opportunity to go to bat for somebody who can’t go to bat for themselves is something that I stand for. Very happy to be here today, humbled to be voted here by my teammates and my peers.
- In the Tribune, Wiederer unearthed a reflective Long as he looked back at some of the award’s past winners, which includes popular Bears such as Patrick Mannelly and Robbie Gould. “I remember sitting in meetings when that award was given out at Halas Hall and thinking to myself, ‘I’m not tough enough, smart enough or a good enough guy to ever win this award.’ But I guess I fooled my teammates enough to vote me here, and it’s a tremendous honor to be here today.”
- Long also joked about the Bears signing quarterback Chase Daniel, whose addition ended Long’s tenure as the team’s oldest player. “It’s a business where you don’t get to be the old guy, so when you are the old guy you can take a step back and say, ‘I’ve done something right.’ But I’m glad we signed Chase.”