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Kyle Long Settles Back In With Bears After Grueling Offseason Recovery

By Chris Emma—

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (CBS) – The last eight months have been difficult for Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long.

Recovering from two major injuries – a torn labrum in his left shoulder and ligament damage in his right ankle – was hard enough, but there's also the human aspect of it.

"It just doesn't make you feel like you, and I don't like to be in that state," Long said of his rough road back.

Long  was back with the Bears on Thursday afternoon at Olivet Nazarene for the beginning of training camp. That was a positive step given the nature of his injuries.

Last August, Long suffered the torn labrum that would linger throughout the regular season. His shoulder often popped out of place and required constant maintenance, but Long fought through the circumstances. Then came the ankle injury in late November. It was gruesome and required surgery. Suddenly, that became the major focus.

When February came around, it was decided that shoulder surgery wasn't the best course of action.

"It was a really, really tough process going through (the ankle procedure) with the medication that they provided me," Long said. "It was protocol, standard operating procedure, but my body didn't handle it very well. I just thought it was in my best interest being the shoulder wasn't a super serious thing, it wasn't something that was going to limit me completely, to take it one procedure at a time. The timetable would not have added up to be able to be ready when I wanted to be ready.

"The shoulder hasn't really been an issue and hopefully it won't be an issue. I've done a lot of stuff extensively to work on the smaller muscles and strengthening around there, intrinsic strength. It's been able to help me out a lot."

While monitoring his health and easing back to the game, Long faces a new challenge – another position switch. The Bears have moved their three-time Pro Bowl guard from the right side to the left. He will work alongside starting tackle Charles Leno Jr. and center Cody Whitehair at his third position in five seasons.

The move to left guard won't be quite as different as his switch to right tackle two years ago. Still, there are lessons that have been learned.

"Be patient but also understand every rep is an opportunity to learn," he said. "You'll be humbled over and over and over again but you keep showing up, you keep swinging. You can only play one play at a time."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago's sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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