Bears likely to put guard Kyle Long on injured reserve

The Bears are likely to put Long on IR, according to the NFL Network, after the three-time Pro Bowl selection struggled with a hip injury this season.

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Bears guard Kyle Long blocks in the playoffs.

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The Bears went into their bye week knowing they had to make difficult decisions to rally an offense that was one of the worst in the NFL through five games.

On Sunday, word came that one particularly tough call was coming.

According to the NFL Network, the Bears are likely to put right guard Kyle Long on injured reserve. Coach Matt Nagy confirmed the move in his weekly Monday morning appearance on WBBM-AM.

“We want to credit him for battling through the injury,” Nagy said. “It is a tough loss. It’s a part of the game. we understand that. he understands it and we want to keep plugging away.”

They might make the move as early as Monday morning — before their midday practice — to clear the way for a new right guard to help spark a popgun passing game and an irrelevant rushing attack.

For Long, the move would feel frustratingly familiar.

Long, who’ll turn 31 in December, has been hampered by a hip injury and has struggled this season. He missed the Bears’ victory against the Vikings and returned for their loss to the Raiders in London, in which he played every offensive snap. Coincidentally, the last play of Long’s career with the Bears might have come against the franchise with which his Hall of Fame father, Howie, is so synonymous.

Long restructured his contract during the offseason, leaving his future with the Bears beyond this season cloudy at best. The Bears only would have to eat $1.5 million in dead salary-cap money if they don’t exercise his option — which otherwise would cost them a $9.6 million cap hit — by March 18.

That likely would be too steep a price for someone with Long’s injury history. He started 47 of 48 games in his first three seasons but only 25 of 48 in his next three, landing on IR each time. A move to IR on Monday would be his fourth in as many years.

It would be an unfortunate turn for someone who felt as good in training camp as he had in years and practiced more because of it.

But something had to give as the Bears analyzed an offense that ranked 29th at 3.5 yards per carry through the first five weeks. Nagy hinted after the loss to the Raiders that the Bears might make some kind of change during the bye, but he ruled out making a move with center James Daniels or left guard Cody Whitehair.

‘‘The production right now in the run game isn’t there,’’ he said last week. ‘‘So . . . I’m going to go back and I’m going to figure out the why part. I think I know.’’

Though the Bears could look outside Halas Hall for help, they have three in-house candidates who could take Long’s place: veterans Ted Larsen and Rashaad Coward and rookie Alex Bars.

Larsen hurt his knee while starting for Long against the Vikings and hasn’t practiced since.

Coward took Larsen’s place during the game against the Vikings, taking his first offensive snaps. A converted defensive lineman who switched to offensive tackle last year, Coward practiced a few times at guard last season — and even fewer times this season — before being forced into action.

Bars, who went undrafted while he recovered from knee surgery, has spent the season on the practice squad, working with offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who mentored him at Notre Dame.

While Long has struggled recently, he would leave big shoes to fill. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons — the first two at guard and the third at tackle — and has been one of the most beloved members of the locker room since then-general manager Phil Emery drafted him 20th overall in 2013. He is the second-longest-tenured player on the Bears to special-teams whiz Sherrick McManis.

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