DES PLAINES, Ill. -- Chicago Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long vowed Tuesday that he’ll be fully recovered from three separate surgical procedures on his neck, shoulder and elbow by the beginning of the regular season.
"If it were up to me, I’d be full go right now,” said Long, who was honored at luncheon Tuesday as the Bears’ 2017 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.
“I feel as if I am [ready to go], but there are certain things that are time-sensitive that we have to follow a certain timeline with -- the neck being one of them. As you know, it’s not something you want to take lightly. We’re going to take all the time we need, but there will be no limitations once the season rolls around.”
Long has been ravaged by injuries during the past two seasons. Chicago’s first-round pick in 2013, Long suffered a gruesome ankle injury in 2016 that cost him the final eight games that year and the first two games of the 2017 season.
Long later landed on injured reserve on Dec. 5. In total, Long -- named to three Pro Bowls -- appeared in just 10 games (nine starts) for the 5-11 Bears last season.
“I can tell you my neck wasn’t structurally the way it was supposed to be,” Long said. “I had some nerve issues that contributed a lot to the shoulder that I had been complaining about for a while. Immediately when I woke up [from surgery], I put arms over my head and my dad looked at me like, ‘you haven’t done that in a very long time.’ Like I said, credit to the doctors and the surgeons who have done a great job, and credit to my teammates who have kept my spirits up.”
Added Long: “It comes with the territory. I signed up for this. I love seeing the teammates and seeing the reaction on their face when I’m actually walking into the building and not in a wheelchair.”
The Bears are counting on Long to play a sizable role in Chicago’s rebuilding effort under new head coach Matt Nagy. Long’s $7,348,158 total salary for 2018 became fully guaranteed on the third day of the league year. He’ll count $8,848,158 against Chicago’s salary cap in 2018.