Maybe, just maybe, every updated injury report doesn’t have bad news.
It’s not that easy, but head coach John Fox shared some good news regarding offensive lineman Kyle Long on Tuesday, even if it came with a bit of pause.
“There’s concern for everything,” Fox told CBS Chicago’s Chris Emma. “But he’s on target (for Week 1). We feel good about his progress.”
Additionally, Emma writes that Long participated in 10 live reps on Tuesday as his work load continues to increase. And while we’re piling on the semi-positive vibes, Robert Zeglinski of the Rock River Times reports Long was “full go” and his recovery process was “speeding up.”
Hooray! One of the Bears’ best offensive linemen, who is also seen as a leader in the locker room and in the huddle, is expected to be ready to roll when games that count in the standings get underway. In case you’re curious, the Bears kick-off against the Falcons on Sept. 10 – which is 33 days away. As far as I’m concerned, any injury update that ends with a positive should be celebrated when it comes to the Bears, a team that saw unrivaled injury news last year with 19 players winding up on injured reserve.
But in case he isn’t prepared for action in Week 1, Cody Whitehair has been taking reps at guard with Hroniss Grasu receiving snaps at center.
This offseason hasn’t been easy for Long. The three-time Pro Bowl standout had offseason ankle surgery, but passed on going under the knife to repair a troublesome shoulder. Still, Long has kept busy and has stayed active in camp despite his injury status. After all, he is going through a position change as he swaps guard spots with Pro Bowler Josh Sitton – marking the third different position Long will play under Fox.
The Bears are coming off a 3-13 season, but expectations shouldn’t be low across the board. Long is part of an offensive line Pro Football Focus ranked as the fifth best coming into the year, thanks in part to the best interior line. And even though the tackle play has been much maligned in recent years, it turns out Charles Leno Jr. has been a pretty effective pass blocker. Altogether, this unit will block for Jordan Howard, a Pro Bowl rusher as a rookie who has eyes on being the NFL’s leading rusher in his second season.
If Howard has any chance at reaching the heights he has set for himself in leading the offense to respectability, it will all start up front. And if all goes well, odds are Long will be a major part of the team’s success.