Kyle Long returns from foot injury to practice with Bears
Following seven missed games after foot surgery, Long is hoping to come off injured reserve in time for the Bears’ first playoff game in January, if not before.
“It felt good to be in a helmet and running around,” Long said. “I don’t feel like a ghost in the building, which is nice.”
Long suffered a tendon injury to his right foot on Oct. 28 in Chicago’s win over the New York Jets, and then underwent surgery and rehab.
The Bears (10-4) play Sunday at San Francisco (4-10).
Coach Matt Nagy couldn’t commit to Long’s return for the playoffs or possibly even next week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. Long practiced Friday only on a limited basis and the team will monitor his recovery.
“Just to kind of get a feel for where he tells us he feels with everything health-wise and then also the other part, too, is when you’re out like that it’s the conditioning side too,” Nagy said. “We’ll just keep communicating and talking to him and then we’ll see what we think is best as we go. Today was a great first step.”
Now in his sixth season, Long doesn’t want to miss a chance at his first postseason action.
“I’ve never had a chance to play in the playoffs,” Long said. “I’m just really happy for our team. We have put ourselves in a position to be in the playoffs.
“But right now we are going to San Francisco tomorrow and we’ve got business to take care of the next two weeks. There’s obviously no timeline, so I’m just trying to progress every day and make strides.”
A Pro Bowler from 2013-15, Long has been plagued by injuries severe enough to require surgery the past three years. He missed 14 games in 2016 and 2017. He had surgeries last offseason to his neck, shoulder and elbow, and the previous year suffered a gruesome ankle injury requiring surgery.
“It’s really frustrating,” Long said. “If you’re a football player you want to play football, and if you can’t do that then you don’t feel like yourself. So I’m just happy we’re winning.”
Long’s return had the Bears fired up on defense, too.
“I think that it will be a morale boost to see him overcome his obstacles and be able to rejoin the team in that way,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “That guy makes me excited because you can tell that he has given everything to this game, mentally and physically, you know? So I’m always happy when a guy like that gets to come back to the game that he loves.”
Free safety Eddie Jackson (right ankle) and linebacker Aaron Lynch (elbow) missed all three practices this week and are doubtful for Sunday’s game. Jackson, a Pro Bowler, would be replaced by third-year player Deon Bush in the starting lineup. … Hicks had missed Thursday’s practice because of illness but returned Friday and will play against San Francisco.