TAMPA, Fla. — As if the Bears didn’t feel sick enough Sunday, their most beloved player was carted off the field in the second quarter with an air cast on his right ankle.
Guard Kyle Long returned to the Bears’ sideline on crutches and watched the second half. The instep of his right ankle swollen, Long didn’t speak to media after the game; his father, Fox analyst Howie Long, said the diagnosis was better than it first appeared, but that his son would miss time.
Coach John Fox said the Bears’ recent wave of ankle injuries “have been, at minimum, high ankle sprains,” seemingly indicating the same for his Pro Bowler.
Whether Long’s return is wise, is another question. The Bears have seven weeks remaining and infinitesimal playoff odds. Long admitted this week that his injuries are “something that I’m dealing with until I get it taken care of” at the end of the season.
He’s been playing most of the season with a left shoulder injury and missed the Vikings game with a triceps problem.
“He’s had a bunch of injuries to one side of his body,” Jay Cutler said. “And now his lower half takes a hit too.”
Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman called Long “one of those pillar guys that’s going to be around for a long time,” and said it was difficult to see him go down.
“It’s tough, man,” receiver Alshon Jeffery said. “Kyle is a warrior. Kyle wants to be out there fighting. He’s our brother. He’s always trying to cheer guys up no matter what he is, whether he’s playing or he’s not playing.”
Ted Larsen entered the game for Long. Right tackle Bobby Massie went into concussion protocol in the second quarter, too, and was replaced by Mike Adams.
Long was in visible pain when he went down, but tried to rally his teammates from the golf cart, banging his hands on the side of it as he was driven away.
Cutler fumbled on the next play.
“It sucks,” left tackle Charles Leno said. “He’s a helluva competitor and a true brother of mine, being a part of an O-line, and I just wish the best for him.”
The injury “seems par for the course this year,” left guard Josh Sitton said.
“It seems like we’ve got somebody freaking hurt every game,” he said. “It sucks watching him down there on the ground. It’s tough to see one of your friends, one of your teammates and a helluva competitor, he was down there and he was in a lot of pain. It was tough to see.”