The Bears placed Kyle Long on injured reserve on Tuesday, two days after he aggravated his shoulder in a 15-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Long will miss the final four games of the 2017 season, and the Bears have not decided whether or not he’ll need surgery, coach John Fox said. 

That Long started nine games this season is, to anyone who’s been around him over the last few months, an impressive feat. His shoulder hasn’t been right in about a year, and the ankle surgery he underwent last November had some serious complications that involved significant weight loss. And with all that, he still played more than half the Bears’ schedule. 

“It’s impressive,” center Cody Whitehair said. “You know, he’s a tough guy. He’s what the Bears are all about: Tough guys that are fighting through certain injuries. So he’s going to be missed, for sure.”

While Long’s toughness should be beyond question — “he’s been through a lot, clearly,” left tackle Charles Leno added — he probably didn’t play at the Pro Bowl level the Bears came to expect from 2013-2015. Still, Fox was right in this assessment: “We were definitely a better team with him in there.” 

In shutting him down for the final quarter of the season, the hope is Long gets a head start on his recovery for the 2018 season. The Bears, which have a 12-32 record in the John Fox/Ryan Pace era, need Long at his best if they can expect a turnaround and their first winning season since 2012. 

 

“You could definitely tell he’s been playing through some pain,” Whitehair said. “It seems like after every block he’s grabbing something. So it’s tough to see him out but hopefully we can get him healthy.”