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Bears’ gamble on Kyle Long pays dividends

Can Kyle Long be the Bears’ next great offensive tackle? Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said he can do it, but don’t underestimate his value at guard.

“It’s important with everyone having such good defensive-tackle pass rushers in the league that you have a guard like him to be able to match up with that person,” Kromer said Wednesday. “There’s a lot of times you get one-on-one inside, as well. I don’t think enough people have an appreciation for that.”

Either way, the Bears definitely appreciate Long, who has turned his raw, first-round talents into consecutive Pro Bowl honors in his first two seasons.

“[He’s an] unbelievable talent,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “I think he’ll agree that he’s got so much more room to grow.”

Long called getting named to the Pro Bowl “a big honor,” but he tried to steer focus toward the Bears’ matchup Sunday against the Vikings.

Despite Long’s lack of playing time at Oregon, general manager Phil Emery took a chance by drafting him with the 20th overall pick in 2013, and the Bears ended up with something special.

“Last year, I was told what to do a lot of the time, and I still didn’t know what they were talking about,” Long said. “Now they can tell me what to do, and I’ll know what they’re talking about. Hopefully next year, I’ll be able to tell myself what to do. It’s a process, baby steps.”

Injury report

Defensive end Jared Allen (ribs), safety Chris Conte (back) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (knee) did not practice.

Long (hip), receiver Marquess Wilson (knee) and defensive end David Bass (knee) were limited.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns