Watching the Bears’ awful 29-7 loss to the Buccaneers from home could prove to be the final test of guard Kyle Long’s patience during his recovery process.
“It was tough watching,” Long said.
Coach John Fox said Long — who was limited in practice Wednesday because of his surgically repaired right ankle — didn’t travel to Tampa because it was a decision put “in the medical people’s hands.”
Long, though, appears on the verge of returning. Fox said he was hopeful that Long would play Sunday against the Steelers at Soldier Field. Long sounded optimistic, too.
“You can’t put any guarantees on it yet, but as I said the previous weeks, I’ve felt a lot better,” Long said. “So it’s going to be a great opportunity this week to figure out where I’m at.”
Long’s recovery is based on incremental steps. Last week, Long said he started getting some snaps in practice, and it helped “knock the rust off.”
As for this week, Long said he hoped that an increased workload would help him get into rhythm with the rest of the offensive line.
“It’s not a spectator sport,” Long said. “I want to impact the game.”
Overall, it has been a grueling recovery for Long, who admitted that he had to deal with setbacks.
“I thought I was going to be ready to go during training camp,” Long said. “I tried to do some stuff, and I went a little fast, so [it’s] back to the patience. It’s like when you have your two pilots in front of the plane, and they’re going through all their checklists pre-flight. The last thing you want to do is have a guy who gets in and turns the engine on and says, let’s go. You want to make sure everything is checked off before you head down the runway.”
Long tried to take off too soon.
“[I was] just trying to push it, thinking my pain tolerance would be able to trump the issue at hand,” Long said, “and it really didn’t.”
Part of the problem was a lack of balance. The muscle atrophy in his right leg was a major hurdle to overcome.
“That’s been the real difficult part because it was just bone real-ly on my right calf and ankle,” Long said. “You could see all the bones. It was just sunken in. I was trying to develop that strength back and get my balance.”
Long said the Bears are in an “all hands on deck” situation because of their injuries. Right guard Josh Sitton (ribs) and reserve guard/tackle Tom Compton (hip) didn’t practice.
“Anybody who’s ready to contribute needs to be able to do so,” Long said. “If I’m in that position this week, I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
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