Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase is pleased with the progress that Kyle Long has made since switching from right guard to right tackle a week before the season opener.
"His movement skills are off the charts and his ability to stay in front of the defender is special," Gase said. "He's making strides every week. It's going to be a growing process. But I'm pretty sure at the end of the day I feel really confident he'll be one of the top tier guys in the league."
After giving up a sack and missing a key block on a fourth-down pass play in the Bears' season-opening loss to the Packers, Long seemed to play with more confidence in last Sunday's defeat to the Cardinals.
"He's so hard on himself," Gase said. "We got out of that second game and I think he realized, 'I'm pretty good' and 'I belong there' and his mental mistakes went way down. You could see there was a different comfort level."
Health update:** For the second straight day Thursday, quarterback Jay Cutler (hamstring), receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and linebacker Jonathan Bostic (ankle) did not practice.
After sitting out Wednesday, receiver Eddie Royal (back/hip) was limited, as were running back Kyle Long (knee), defensive lineman Ego Ferguson (knee), outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee), cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring), guard Matt Slauson (thigh/toe) and receiver Marquess Wilson (shoulder).
Porter, an 8-year-year NFL veteran, hasn't played in a game since injuring his hamstring Aug. 29 in a preseason loss to the Bengals.
"We saw early on that he has good cover skills," said coach John Fox. "He has good ball skills. He has played in the league, so he brings a certain element of experience to the group. Hopefully he can make it to game day. I think this is the first regular-season game he'll be up—or has the possibility of being up. We're hoping he adds something to our defense."
Missing Alshon: Gase acknowledged that the Bears offense is easier to defend when Jeffery is sidelined.
"He affects everybody," Gase said. "He's a difference-maker. He's a big guy. You have to make sure you know where he's at. We like moving him around, putting him in different spots. That moves everybody else around, so it's hard to target who we're trying to get the ball to and who's really the main guy that week.
"Right now it's easier to kind of focus on a couple guys and most teams can probably see where we're trying to get the ball sometimes. Now we need some guys to step up so we can spread it out. When they take certain plays away other guys need to step up."
Rookie on the rise: Count Gase among those who have been impressed with rookie running back Jeremy Langford. The fourth-round pick from Michigan State played one series against the Cardinals, rushing for 21 yards on six carries capped by a 1-yard touchdown run.
"He's aggressive, downhill, he's a lot more physical than I thought when we drafted him," Gase said. "His ability as a pass catcher and pass protector has been impressive. I was surprised by that as we got him going in training camp. But seeing him kind of develop as we go here it's been something that we've been pleased with as far as a guy that we drafted that we thought could contribute."
Roster move: The Bears on Thursday re-signed rookie cornerback Bryce Callahan to the practice squad. Callahan initially signed with the team as an undrafted free agent in May and was waived Tuesday.