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Bears get good news on Long, Callahan headed into Monday night

September 16, 2018

LAKE FOREST — The Bears wrapped their preparation for Monday night’s home opener vs. the Seattle Seahawks with a final walk-through at Halas Hall and came away with good news on the injury front.

After missing back-to-back practices Thursday and Friday with what was reported as ankle soreness, Kyle Long was a full participant in Saturday’s practice and is listed as probable for Monday night.

Bryce Callahan, who has struggled with some knee soreness, was also full tilt Saturday and should be ready for the Seahawks.

Only DeAndre Houston-Carson, who is unlikely to be full speed for a few more weeks after breaking his arm in the preseason, is out Monday night.

By contrast, the rebuilding Seahawks will be without stalwart LBs Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright and No. 1 WR Doug Baldwin, leaving only three remaining starters from Seattle’s last Super Bowl team — QB Russell Wilson, C Justin Britt and S Earl Thomas. Week 1 starting CB Tre Flowers, OG D.J. Fluker and S Delano Hill are doubtful; No. 1 QB Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) is questionable.

For a Chicago Bears team that has seemingly led the NFL in injury woes in recent seasons, being down just one backup safety going into Week 2 is unusually good news.

It is even better knowing that Long will be close to full speed for a second straight week.

While he was tagged with a questionable holding call last Sunday against the Packers, he also showed signs of being back to his Pro Bowl form — both opening gaps at the line of scrimmage and getting out in front of Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard and delivering several crushing blocks at the second level.

When asked about his status on Friday, head coach Matt Nagy sounded a word of caution about how he would have to handle his star guard to get the most and best out of him.

“That’s the No. 1 thing that we need to understand is it is going to linger,” Nagy said.

“So there’s that fine line of doing too much and knowing, hey, we need to get those reps in practice. It’s just too valuable to not practice.

“And he understands that.

“It comes down to trust — us trusting him and believing in where his pain’s at, and week-by-week we evaluate it.”

Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich had echoed Nagy’s thoughts Friday when he was asked if we should be concerned about Long already missing practice again.

“I expect… my sense is that he’ll be good to go,” he said. “He’s on a weird schedule all the time. I don’t know anything to be dead honest.

“But I would expect that to be just kind of how it’s going to go for the rest of the year.”

It would be one thing if Long was just trying to return from the cervical spine surgery he had toward the end of last season.

But in fact he also had surgeries on his shoulder and elbow this past offseason after the neck surgery, and underwent a serious procedure on his ankle at the end of the 2016 season.

Over the past two offseasons, Long has probably spent more time rehabbing his surgeries than he has in strength-and-conditioning workouts, and he’s missed a ton of offseason team activities as well.

A couple of weeks ago I asked him how he was feeling in general, and he gave me that huge Kyle Long smile I felt like I hadn’t seen in a while and said, “I feel great, I feel like hitting people again.”

While the offensive line certainly wasn’t the reason for the Bears devastating loss last Sunday night at Lambeau, it is arguably the most unsettled unit on either side of the ball, and it definitely needs Long — both to lead and to be its big-play tone-setter.

Bears fans are going to have to get used to seeing Long’s name on the injury list this year because when he does miss or is limited in practice, league rules require the Bears to show him on the injury list.

But the good news, folks, is most of that missed or limited practice time is going to be for maintenance and insurance reasons in an effort to allow him to keep getting stronger and to be at his best later in the season, when he’s missed time each of the past two years.

Kyle Long is one of the few players these Bears can’t afford to be without, and we now know Monday night they shouldn’t have to be.

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