Bears guard Kyle Long can't wait to battle the Packers Thursday night at iconic Lambeau Field.
"My favorite part about going out there is just the history," Long said. "There's nowhere else that you take a bus up to play. You walk out of that tunnel, you can just feel the history.
"I compare it to visiting teams coming to Soldier Field for the first time, getting an opportunity to see the rich history and tradition the NFL has to offer. And what better places than Green Bay and Chicago? It's always a pleasure to play up there. You can feel the rivalry when you're up there and it's always fun."
While Long appreciates the history of the Packers' longtime home stadium, he likely would be just as excited about pulling off I-94 and lining up against the Packers at the Mars Cheese Castle or the Brat Stop.
Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long.
After all, Long went 10 months without being able to play the game he loves, sidelined following surgery to repair a broken ankle he sustained last Nov. 13 in Tampa. The fourth-year pro finally returned to action Sunday against the Steelers and played the entire game in very hot and humid conditions.
"I think there were a couple side bets going there in the locker room; see how long the big guy was going to last because I could barely make it through practice," Long said. "It was hot. But you've got to find a way to bring it when you're in the game like that and luckily we've got guys around me who can pump me up."
Long's return buoyed an offensive line that helped the Bears rush for 220 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries in a 23-17 overtime victory.
"I thought he was real gritty," said coach John Fox. "I thought Kyle played well. He played very physical. He played probably a lot longer than I thought was possible. He played very well, like our whole offensive line. Was it perfect all the time? No. But whenever you can run the ball as many times and as effectively as we did, I think it starts up front."
Long's review of his own performance wasn't as positive.
"We just watched the film and there's a lot of stuff that I'm not very happy with from a personal standpoint," Long said. "Luckily we've got some really freaking good players out there who can make plays. We've got a short week to shore up things we need to get fixed and get out there and try and get another win."
Fox views the Bears offense as a run-oriented attack, something that you'll never hear Long—or any other offensive lineman for that matter—complain about.
"I like to run the ball," Long said. "I like to be part of a team that runs the ball and I feel like when we have the most success as a Chicago Bears offense is when we're running the ball. Luckily, we have really good players back there who can carry the ball and [offensive coordinator] Dowell [Loggains] does a really good job of putting us in a position where we can run the ball."
Long said he was sore after Sunday's game, but his surgically-repaired ankle was fine. "I was happy to be able to run around out there and sustain almost 70 plays," he said. "The good thing is I was able to finish and we got the win. We get another chance at it this week."
This week's chance comes Thursday night, just four days after Sunday's game. Asked if he's mastered preparing during a short week, Long joked that he hasn't mastered much of anything.
"I know that sleep is really important this week," Long said. "That's the easiest way to recover your body on a short turnaround. I've got to get an ice bath and then just [spend] a lot of time on the film. What you can't do physically you need to cover mentally this week. You can't burn the candle at both ends this week."