It was second-and-goal from the Texans’ 1 and massive nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who looks more than his listed weight of 325 pounds, needed to be moved out of the way.
Bears right guard Kyle Long, ailing left shoulder and all, was up for the task.
At the snap, Long not only locked up Wilfork, but drove him a couple steps into the end zone. Running back Jeremy Langford scored right behind Long.
It was an early sign that Long’s shoulder injury wasn’t going to slow him down in the season opener. Before the game, ESPN reported that Long is playing through a torn labrum.
The severity of Long’s injury, though, remains unknown. Long finished the game, playing all 56 snaps the offense had. He didn’t play with a distinguishable brace on, either. Most shoulder braces extend down to the mid-biceps.
“I can play football,” Long said when asked about his shoulder after the Bears’ 24-13 loss.
He can celebrate it, too.
Long raised both arms after Langford’s touchdown run and then pumped his left arm and threw a celebratory punch.
The Bears have been overly cautious with their best players’ injuries. The decision to not activate receiver Kevin White last season after shin surgery is one example. Keeping outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee surgery) on the physically unable-to-perform list to start this season is another.
But the Bears are comfortable with Long playing through his injury for the time being.
It also didn’t prevent the team from signing him to a contract extension through the 2021 season last week.
According to a league source, Long’s extension brings his total contract worth to $50.4 million, which includes $30 million in guarantees.
It includes $36,448,158 in base salaries, a $7.5 million signing bonus and a $5 million roster bonus due in the 2018 season.