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Sly John Fox keeps Bears’ injuries a mystery, for no good reason

Bears head coach John Fox, shown at a minicamp, hasn't been forthcoming on player injuries. The team says offensive lineman Kyle Long, left, has a strained calf. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Bears say the outlook on Kyle Long’s injury is “positive,’’ and by this, I take it to mean a priest has been called in to administer Last Rites.

The guard strained his calf last week, or at least that’s what the Bears told us. Given the team’s history of not being forthcoming on injuries, it could be anything from a calf strain to Ebola. Last year, first-round pick Kevin White was injured during offseason team drills, though the Bears never made it public. At the beginning of training camp, they put the wide receiver on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a shin injury but implied that he would return soon.

Imagine our surprise when, a week or so later, the Bears said he would need surgery for a stress fracture that might keep him out the entire season. Why wasn’t the team open about the injury?

“We tell you the body part, and that’s all we have to tell you,” Fox said at the time.

Even White was misleading about the injury, first telling the media he didn’t have a stress fracture and then, less than 24 hours later, acknowledging that he had known for months that he indeed had a stress fracture. His misdirection was almost surely on team orders.

Why all the mystery? There’s no good, logical answer. Teams say that opponents can take advantage of a player’s injury and perhaps even try to injure him further. But deception early in training camp? This was CIA-worthy.

The NFL is made up of copycats, and a long time ago, some coach decided that a game might possibly be won or lost based on injury information. And now every coach is paranoid about injuries, among a list of about 1,000 things of which to be paranoid.

Long didn’t practice with the team at camp on Sunday, but he did stretch and do drills by himself. There were eyewitnesses to this. Unless it was a stunt double. Hmmm, you don’t think …