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Bears start bracing for life without right guard Kyle Long

Kyle Long has missed the Bears' last eight games since suffering a foot injury against the Jets on Oct. 28. But he is practicing this week and hoping to play — against the Vikings on Sunday or in the Bears' playoff opener on Jan. 5-6.
| Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

After starting 13 regular-season games at left guard in 2017 with the Chiefs and coach Matt Nagy, Bryan Witzmann said the Bears have a “homey feel.”

“Overall, [Nagy] does a lot of things that he’s always done,” Witzmann said. “It’s familiar, and it’s comfortable.”

Witzmann is part of what Nagy described as the Bears’ “contingency plan” after losing right guard Kyle Long, who injured his right foot late in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ 24-10 victory Sunday against the Jets.

Long was in the Bears’ locker room at Halas Hall on Tuesday with his right foot in a walking boot. He used a push scooter to get around.

“We just know we have to key in and focus that much more,” running back Tarik Cohen said. “When you lose a key guy like Kyle Long, you know you have to make up for that. We have players ready to fill that void and try to make up for that loss.”

Witzmann replaced Long after he was injured in a pileup.

But Eric Kush, who was inactive against the Jets because of stingers in his neck, and rookie James Daniels are expected to be the Bears’ starting guards with Long out.

It’s unclear who will replace Long on the right side, but Daniels, a second-round pick, certainly possesses the athleticism, versatility and upside to move around the interior of the line.

He played his first full game against the Jets after rotating at left guard with Kush for three games.

“[Daniels] played a good game,” said Nagy, who should provide an update on Long’s prognosis Wednesday. “There were a couple of things in there where he got a little bit off-balance, but one of his strengths is being able to recover with leverage. A couple of other times where he was pulling in the run game, [he] had some thumpers where he was bringing it.

“I thought overall in the pass game, the offensive line did an awesome job protecting. They did a really good job in giving green grass to Mitch [Trubisky]. And specifically No. 68 [Daniels], I thought for being in there as much as he was, he did well.”

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If Kush’s stinger issues linger, Nagy also sounded comfortable with Witzmann. His two seasons with the Chiefs overlapped with Nagy’s run as their offensive coordinator.

“We established a good rapport and a good trust when I was in Kansas City,” Witzmann said.

That understanding with Nagy could come into play soon enough.

“Obviously, [injuries are] part of the game, and you know that,” said Witzmann, who was signed Oct. 8 after outside linebacker Sam Acho was put on injured reserve.

“It’s next guy up. We have a lot of talented guys, but obviously it’s a tough thing, losing a vet like that. But you’ve got to move forward. There is a lot of trust in that room that we won’t lose a beat.”