Ask John Fox what position Kyle Long will play Sunday, and he’ll concede only that, most likely, the Bears’ two-time Pro Bowler will be somewhere on the field. Which would be funny, really, if the Bears weren’t already missing one Pro Bowler because of a suspension and hoping another might recover from injury in time to face the Packers on Sunday.
No, Fox wasn’t saying anything Monday. He deferred injury questions to Wednesday, when the Bears must file a league-mandated report, and said his starting offensive line would become apparent only when the team announced its starting lineup Sunday.
In other words, don’t read much into the mid-week depth chart.
Long wouldn’t divulge much, either, but was honest when asked about his claim last week that moving from right guard to right tackle wasn’t a big deal.
“I think that’s just kind of a dismissive comment on my end,” he said. “But yeah, really it’s football. You still use the same techniques.
“So who knows what’s going to happen. I’ll try to be as ready as I can, whichever way they decide to go.”
Long claimed he doesn’t know where he’ll start — “I have no clue,” he said — and said the team was concerned about getting its best five linemen on the field.
The bet here is he starts at right tackle.
The overwhelming evidence supports it.
When the Bears waived tackle Jordan Mills, one of Long’s good friends, on Sunday, they were left with three tackles. Charles Leno, Jr., would start at right tackle if Long did not, and that would leave Tayo Fabuluje — a rookie project — as the Bears’ only insurance for Jermon Bushrod’s balky back.
“I don’t look at the shape of the roster,” Long said. “I’m just trying to be as dialed in as I can in the spots I’m possibly going to be in. There’s a lot of studying, there’s a lot of technique that comes into it.”
Share Events on The CubeLong said he never picked Mills’ brain about tackle, because “that was his deal,” but will miss him dearly. Mills was claimed by the Cowboys on Monday.
“Obviously it’s very difficult to lose one of your best friends — a guy that I came in with, roommates on the road in hotels, study partners,” he said.
Then there’s the player the Bears claimed Sunday: Patrick Omameh, who started all 16 games at right guard for the Buccaneers last season. While the Bears would likely start Vladimir Ducasse at right guard Sunday, Fox said it wasn’t too much to ask for Omameh to be ready.
“At the end of the day I view the claiming deadline like another draft,” said Fox, who added Omameh could learn tackle, too. “We got some rookies playing.”
Add up all the above and it seems obvious where Long will play Sunday, even if the Bears don’t want to publicize it.
It’s still a tough position to put Long in, even though he’s done something similar before, starting as a rookie despite starting only five games at Oregon.
But had the team wanted him to play right tackle all along, they would have had him do so more in camp. Or in a preseason game.
“It’s tough,” left tackle Jermon Bushrod said of a position switch. “But at the end of the day it’s about getting reps and honing in on your technique.”
Fox swears that he’s not worried about Long.
“He’s probably a guy, I’m least concerned about his confidence on our football team,” he said. “Because I think he’s a pretty good player and a pretty confident guy. And I think most good players are.”
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