NEW ORLEANS — The Bears finished the game with their left guard at center, two backups at guard and their only remaining healthy center inactive.
Right guard Kyle Long injured his hand on the Bears’ first drive Sunday. He returned to the sideline in full pads but didn’t re-enter the game.
Long said he got his left hand stuck in a pass rusher’s armpit. When the defender spun to Long’s right, his knuckles got caught underneath his shoulder pads.
“I had some stuff going in directions that wasn’t too pleasant,” said Long, who was replaced by Tom Compton.
Center Cody Whitehair left in the fourth quarter after injuring his right elbow. He tried snapping on the sideline before the Bears decided to take him out.
“The guys that came in did a really nice job,” Whitehair said. “They handled the noise well. We had an opportunity to win.”
Josh Sitton replaced Whitehair and made his first snaps with the Bears. Bradley Sowell took Sitton’s place at left guard. Hroniss Grasu, a center, was inactive.
“I felt like I coulda went out there if need be,” Whitehair said. “I just didn’t wanna risk it.”
Coach John Fox said Long could have returned, too.
“We decided to put the healthy guy in there — which I would do again,” he said.
Long sounded as if the injury wasn’t a long-term problem.
“Moving forward, we’re going to do everything we can this bye week to get the hand right and get back out there,” Long said.
Why not run?
Immediately after the two-minute warning, the Bears faced third-and-one — then fourth-and-one — down by five. They threw two incomplete passes.
Fox said the Bears considered running.
“It’s like flipping a coin,” he said. “You’ve pretty much got a 50-50 [chance] right there. Obviously, it didn’t work.”
Jordan Howard would’ve made a nice battering ram.
With 102 yards on 23 carries in his 23rd game, he became the fastest player in franchise history to have 10 triple-digit games. His 50-yard run in the third quarter was the Bears’ longest play of the game.
This and that
Long came off the bench during a skirmish with about a minute to play. After Mitch Trubisky threw an interception to Marshon Lattimore, Sitton tussled with Saints players near the Bears’ sideline and was given an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. Long didn’t want to offer details.
“We’ll have to look at what happened after the play,” he said. “That’s something that will be handled off the field.”
• Nickel back Bryce Callahan left with a knee injury and was replaced by Cre’Von LeBlanc.
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