Kyle Long joins Bears’ practice, starts switch to left side

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Kyle Long, right, returned to practice. (AP)

BOURBONNAIS — Kyle Long was back — and at a new position.

The Bears’ three-time Pro Bowl player was limited in practice Thursday, his first appearance since having extensive right ankle surgery in November. He slid from right guard to left, where the team hopes to take advantage of his athleticism.

Long switched from right guard once before — but that was to right tackle, and on the eve of the 2015 season.

He hasn’t figured out whether this move is easier — it’s still guard, yes, but on the other side of the center — but he’ll use the lessons learned from his last switch.

“Be patient, but also understand every rep is an opportunity to learn,” he said. “You’ll be humbled over and over and over again but you keep showing up, you keep swinging and you can only play one play at a time.”

Long, who had an arduous recovery from the surgery, decided against having an operation of his left labrum, which was torn early last season. He said his shoulder used to pop out of joint but that his body healed itself.

Long wouldn’t give a timetable on his return to full strength.

“I don’t think the timing could have been much worse there towards the end of the season, but the cards are what they are,” he said. “We’ve got to play the hell out of them.”

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