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Bears G Kyle Long avoids the knife after left shoulder injury

INDIANAPOLIS — Guard Kyle Long won’t have surgery on the torn labrum in his left shoulder after all.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace said Long and the team decided he would avoid the knife after receiving several opinions from doctors. He originally planned to have surgery in February.

“It was multiple opinions and doctors with a lot of conviction that this was the right thing to do,” Pace said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He’s strong. He’s kind of a freak genetically. His shoulder’s doing good. There’s going to be maintenance as far as strength and everything, which he’s doing. We don’t have a lot of concerns with that right now.”

Pace said the Bears generally try to avoid surgery.

Kyle Long hurt his shoulder Sunday. (Getty Images)

“He can just focus on his ankle rehab,” Pace said.

Long had major surgery in December to fix his right ankle, which fullback Paul Lasike rolled up in the loss Nov. 13 against the Buccaneers.

Long’s ankle injury was far more serious than his shoulder problem, which was discovered in August while evaluating another malady. Long started eight games last season without a brace on the shoulder.

“The shoulder is in pretty good shape,” Pace said.

Long lost 30 pounds partly because of a bad reaction to medication after ankle surgery. Pace wouldn’t say when Long’s ankle would be back at full strength, though it seems possible he’ll miss part of the team’s offseason activities.

“It’s really him rehabbing the ankle, and we’ll see,” Pace said. “One thing that I have learned in the last two years is to be careful to put timelines on these injuries because it’s so fluid.”

Pace pointed to center Cody Whitehair and guards Josh Sitton and Long as the team’s strength, a sign the Bears plan to keep Long inside rather than move him back to right tackle, where he spent 2015.

“You look at the interior offensive line that we have,” Pace said. “I think it’s set to be one of the better interior groups in the league.”

Coach John Fox called the line the Bears’ biggest area of improvement in his two-year tenure.

“We were able to improve quite a bit in our run game in that department,” he said. “I don’t think we are a finished product by any stretch, but we are further along this time this year than we were this time last year.”

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Email: pfinley@suntimes.com