Boiling point: Bears guard Kyle Long has his reasons to be frustrated
BOURBONNAIS — Enough was enough for Bears coach John Fox on Monday when guard Kyle Long turned his second chance into another fight in practice.
Fox threw Long, a fan favorite and one of the Bears’ best players, out of their closed-to-the-public practice.
It was a bad way for the Bears to conclude their stay at Olivet Nazarene University, and a bad look for Long, who’s valued for his edge and toughness but crossed the line with his own teammates.
Before Monday, the Bears had gone all training camp without a fight in practice. But Long changed that with multiple skirmishes in separate drills.
“There’s a certain standard we have, and something we weren’t very pleased with,” Fox said. “I haven’t had a chance to visit with him, but it’s something that we’ll handle internally.”
Long’s first scuffle was with some of his fellow offensive linemen.
“I just know there was a disturbance, and we don’t need that,” Fox said. “That’s why he left the field.”
Fox didn’t know what sparked Long’s actions, but Long had his reasons to be frustrated. A day earlier, he had opened up about what was happening in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white supremacist rally turned violent and deadly over the weekend.
“It’s rough. It’s a strange time,” he said Sunday. “The more we can do right to each other and act accordingly when presented with the situation, then the better off we’ll be.”
Long’s situation with the Bears also has been a source of frustration. The team is being extremely cautious with him as he returns from a gruesome injury to his right ankle last Nov. 13 in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Long lost nearly 50 pounds after a bad reaction to post-surgery medication.
He has gradually been inserted into team drills, but his playing time has been limited, and it’s possible the Bears will hold him out the entire preseason.
“Well, I’ll tell you, it [stinks],” Long said. “It [stinks] when you can’t be out there every team rep when you’re used to running off the field after a team period with the rest of the [first-team offense] and I’m sitting over there in a hat watching. It [stinks]. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you.
“I love the game of football, and when it’s taken away from you and when you’re limited to just practicing against other O-linemen during individual [drills], it’s tough.”
Complicating Long’s situation is another position change. He called moving from right to left guard “a radical change” and said his issues are technique-based and subtle. It’s apparent to him that he needs the work.
“The physical end of it has sped up,” he said. “Mentally, I know what I’m doing. It’s just a matter of tying the mental and physical aspects together. I feel a little awkward, like, just having my feet under me and timing of certain plays.”
Ensuring that Long is ready for the regular season is a high priority for the Bears, whose offensive line can’t be a strength without him.
But with the Bourbonnais portion of camp coming to an end, the patient approach has seemingly tested Long.
“This is my first time through something like this,” he said Sunday. “And honestly, I’ve been champing at the bit to get back, but they’ve done a good job of pulling the reins a little bit and making sure that I understand that it’s a long season — even though I fully understand that. You’re kind of short-sighted when you’re injured because you want to get back at it as fast as possible.”
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