Bears guard Kyle Long was sitting at the Old Orchard Shake Shack, watching the first night of the NFL draft on TV with a buddy.
When he saw the Bears traded four picks for North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, his mind first turned to Mike Glennon, who had stayed at his house the week before. In the moment, Long, perhaps the team’s most vocal offensive leader, said he was “getting ready to figure out how to handle all that stuff.”
He settled on something before the next time he saw Glennon, who had signed a three-year, $45 million deal with the Bears in March.
“I saw Glennon, and I said, ‘Dude, there’s a reason you’re here,’ ” Long said. “ ‘That’s all I can say. They don’t bring people in and pay them that kind of money for nothing. Get your competitive shoes on and get ready to kick some butt.’ ”
Long, who started for less than a season at Oregon, sees a kindred career in Trubisky, who had 13 starts at UNC.
“As is well-documented, Mitch doesn’t have a very long career behind him — which sounds familiar,” he said. “We’re an equal-opportunity employer. Competition is always welcome.”
Long is channeling that competitiveness in his return from surgery on his right ankle in December. He’s running on an underwater treadmill but hasn’t participated in field sessions during the offseason program.
He wouldn’t give a percentage to describe his recovery — “The target is to feel better tomorrow than I did today,” he said — or say if he’d be ready by training camp.
“The goal is Week 1,” said Long, who was at a North Riverside Raising Cane’s, where he received two donations for the charity of his choosing, Blessings in a Backpack. “Until further notice, I will be out there Week 1.”
He is about 15 pounds away from his goal of 325 after losing 45 pounds after a bad reaction to post-surgery medication. He was down to about 270 — his lightest weight since he was 16 — and said he looked sick.
“I had never been injured or on pain medication, any of that kind of thing, so my body didn’t know how to respond,” he said. “I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep very well.”
Long doesn’t take Advil or Tylenol during the season — or even tape up his ankles during the week. He chose to bypass a planned surgery on the torn labrum in his left shoulder with GM Ryan Pace’s blessing. He didn’t want to be in a sling and was uncomfortable with dealing with painkillers again.
“You become dependent on that stuff and I feel, unfortunately, in the NFL a lot of that stuff is kinda commonplace,” he said. “I’d rather be a beacon of hope for kids who want to do it the natural way. I eat peanut butter, I get my sleep at night and I wake up and kick butt.”
Long has a new appreciation for his health. He eats a big breakfast every morning, he said, and his appetite takes off from there. His shoulder injury has “healed on its own terms,” he said. He’s able to lift weights at Halas Hall every day.
For the first time since he joined the Bears, Long will be blocking for a different Week 1 starting quarterback. Might the old one, Jay Cutler, be calling his games?
Long spent last weekend with Cutler and his family before they moved to Nashville. He said his friend would do well as a TV analyst. Still, he wouldn’t write off his football career.
“I know the guy can play — it’s just whether he wants to,“ Long said.
As for the right situation, Long said circumstances can change with quarterbacks around the league.
“As we’ve seen, the offseason’s a long, long thing,” he said. “And you never know who’s going to need something.”
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