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Kyle Long to RT? He's willing, & it's 'never too late'

Kyle Long said Tuesday he'll play tackle if needed. (AP)

Matt Slauson knows what makes a good tackle.

“You gotta be an athlete,” the Bears’ veteran left guard said Tuesday. “You gotta be a bruiser. And you gotta kinda be a dancer, too.”

Kyle Long can be all three of those things, he said, if he’s moved to right tackle from right guard, where he’s obvious posted consecutive Pro Bowl seasons.

Slauson admitted the timing of the consideration is not ideal. He’d prefer to have the line’s lineup solidified by now, he said, “but our job isn’t to question things.”

John Fox swore Tuesday that he has time to get Long game-ready, if the team ultimately decides to start him at tackle.

“It’s never too late,” Fox said. “You’ve got what you got and you try to put your best 11 out there. At that point, it’s — you’re asking if it’s difficult? It’s all difficult. But it’s been done before.”

The position overwhelmed Charles Leno, Jr., and Jordan Mills at times this preseason. Neither has been able to claim the starting spot for themselves, leaving the Bears to ponder playing veteran Vladimir Ducasse at right guard and sliding Long outside.

Long said he’s willing to move if asked, and maintained had no preference between the two positions. If he’s sent to tackle, though, Long would take the field against the Packers without a single second of game action — preseason or otherwise — at the position.

“It’s like, if you’re working on a 300-piece puzzle and you can’t figure out which pieces to go where, it might be the end of the puzzle before you figure out, ‘Oh, there’s that piece for there,’ Long said. “So we’re not really worried about that.”

Long said Tuesday he did not know if he would play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Browns, but it’s doubtful the Bears would risk injury to him.

He was worried instead about trying to learn from a poor game against the Browns —“It was uncharacteristic of me; I couldn’t get going,” — that could, perhaps, prove to be his last as a guard.

Share Events on The CubeThe move outside is more physical than mental, said Slauson, who played both positions in college.

“You’re going against arguably the best athletes on the defense when you move out to tackle,” Slauson said. “Those guys are big, they’re strong and they’re fast as hell. You’re in space all the time. You’re one-on-one a lot of time.

“By the same token, you do have a lot more time to react. There’s not as much mental stuff put on you at that spot because it’s such a physical position.”

Long can play any spot on the line but center, which Fox views as a positive.

But that’s different than a permanent move, and one made so close to the start of the season.

“It’s all problematic,” Fox said. “You’re going against the best in the world at what you do, regardless of what position you play.”

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickFinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

BOX:

Changing of the guard?

If the Bears move Kyle Long to tackle, here are their options at right guard:

Player/Years/Games Played/Games Started/In One Sentence

Vladimir Ducasse/sixth/63/11/ The most likely candidate, Ducasse started six games for the Vikings last year and four with the Jets the year before.

Michael Ola/second/13/12/He played everywhere but center last season, but the Bears’ new coaching staff has kept him at tackle during camp.

Will Montgomery/ninth/106/71/ It won’t happen now, but the Bears could consider starting rookie Hroniss Grasu at center later this season and moving Montgomery to a position he’s played before.

Conor Boffeli/second/0/0/ A practice squad player last year from October on, Boffeli is listed as a guard but is the Bears’ third-string center on the depth chart.

Tyler Moore/rookie/0/0/ The rookie from Florida seems unlikely to make the team, but could land on the practice squad.