Long to make third Pro Bowl trip

Posted Jan 14, 2016

Bears tackle Kyle Long was named to his third straight Pro Bowl Thursday, replacing injured Eagles tackle Jason Peters.

Bears tackle Kyle Long was playing the video game “Grand Theft Auto” Thursday when he found out that he had been named to a third straight Pro Bowl.

“I had a voicemail and it ended up being [Bears coach] John Fox,” Long said. “He said, ‘Call me, it’s urgent.’ When a coach calls you like that during the offseason you don’t know what’s going to be the case. I called him and he congratulated me on being a Pro Bowler.”

Long, who replaces injured Philadelphia Eagles tackle Jason Peters, is the first offensive lineman in Bears history to receive the honor in each of his first three seasons.

"I'm very thankful for the fans that voted and for the continual support from the Chicago Bears fan base," Long said. "I'm looking forward to representing the Chicago Bears in the Pro Bowl for a third time in three years."

Selected by the Bears with the 20th pick in the 2013 draft, Long is the first Bears player to be named to the Pro Bowl in his first three NFL seasons since Brian Urlacher and the seventh Bears player overall.

"Anytime you're mentioned in the same conversation with Brian Urlacher, it's a tremendous honor and I'm very grateful," Long said.

After playing right guard in his first two NFL seasons, Long moved to right tackle in 2015 and struggled at times at his new position.

“I think I made a big sacrifice in my career and I think [the Pro Bowl nod] was in kind of a roundabout way the reward for it,” Long said.

“Unfortunately, I dealt with a lot of growing pains, as has been publicized. I’ve owned it and been a part of the learning process and tried to be positive every day. It’s been a fun process this year, but there have been tough times. But Hawaii is going to be a lot of fun.”

In 2015, Long was part of a Bears offense that ranked third in franchise history in completion percentage (63.9) and interception percentage (2.3), fourth in gross passing yards (3,843) and third-down percentage (42.5), fifth in net passing yards (3,660) and sixth in passer rating (89.7) and total net yards (5,514).

Long helped protect quarterback Jay Cutler, who posted a career-high 92.3 passer rating and reduced his interceptions from 18 in 2014 to 11, while also opening holes for running back Matt Forte, who led the Bears in rushing for the eighth straight season—the longest streak since Walter Payton did so for 12 straight years from 1975-86.

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 31, and televised live on ESPN at 6 p.m. (CT) from Aloha Stadium in Hawaii. Players will be assigned to two teams during the 2016 Pro Bowl Draft on ESPN2 on Wednesday, January 27 at 7 p.m. (CT).

Long is excited about making his third trip to the NFL all-star game.

"First year I thought I had died and gone to football heaven," he said. "The second year you get to step back and really you enjoy your time there all the time but you get to see how the great ones act and interact with one and other, and that's where I think my game is good. I can emulate and try to take things from other guys and that's been a great thing for me at the Pro Bowl."