After sitting out the Bears' first five training camp practices due to a viral infection, second-year guard Kyle Long has been cleared by doctors to begin conditioning.
"He's got to get his legs back underneath him," coach Marc Trestman said Wednesday in Bourbonnais. "I think by Saturday night you'll see him in pads. We'll work him into individual [drills] in pads on Saturday night. That would be the hope and we'll take it from there."
|Bears right guard Kyle Long makes a point while watching practice in Bourbonnais.|
Long, who contracted the infection about 10 days ago, has not practiced since the Bears concluded their offseason program with a mandatory minicamp in mid-June. The 6-6, 313-pounder has not worn pads since last year's season finale against the Packers.
"He hasn't put on pads for quite some time and hasn't played football for quite some time either," Trestman said. "We've been here [at training camp for] six or seven days of learning and doing those kinds of things and he's been away some of that time.
"That all goes into the mix, and we're going to do the right thing. We'll do what the trainers and doctors tell us to do and he'll be in meetings and he'll get back on his feet and we'll get him going."
Long was voted to the Pro Bowl last season as a rookie after being selected by the Bears with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the draft. He started all 16 games after opening just five contests at the Division I college level at Oregon.
Trestman reiterated Wednesday that Long's lack of experience in college doesn't mean that the days he has missed in camp will hinder his develop more than another player.
"I said it yesterday: every player needs to practice," Trestman said. "It doesn't matter what year, how long they've played, whether they've been an All-Pro or otherwise. Players need to practice. This is a game you have to practice.
"That's why we spend so many days between each game because you've got to practice to get it right. So he missed out, no doubt about it, and we'll try to accelerate the process as soon as he gets back in there."
Long seems to be getting healthy at the right time, given that backup Eben Britton exited Wednesday's practice with a left hamstring injury he sustained while blocking defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff in a pass rush drill.
A year ago, Long rapidly ascended in training camp after missing most of the offseason program due to an NFL rule that prevents rookies from participating in workouts until their college class graduates.
The Bears are hoping that Long makes similar strides this summer upon returning to practice.
"With Kyle, he's unique," Trestman said. "We all heard it last year. It started off slow and then it just exponentially grew. He got better at a much faster rate, both him and Jordan [Mills].
"Kyle is unusual from that standpoint, how quickly he learned the game to be able to play this game from Day 1. I think that helps. The fact that he was out, I think we can get him back into it. But every player's different."