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Long shakes off rust in return to game action

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Bears guard Kyle Long surpassed another milestone on his road to recovery Thursday night in Cincinnati, playing in a game for the first time since last Dec. 3.

The three-time Pro Bowler exited after only one series, but it still was a noteworthy accomplishment given that he spent the offseason recovering from multiple surgeries.

Long was placed on injured reserve last Dec. 5 after hurting his shoulder two days earlier in a loss to the 49ers at Soldier Field. While he only played the first possession Thursday night in Cincinnati, the rest of the No. 1 offense left after two series.

"It's been a while since I've had some live game action out there with the starters," Long said following the Bears' 30-27 preseason loss to the Bengals. "It felt good to get out there and shake a little rust off. We didn't get a great rhythm going with only a couple drives, but it's the preseason. This is where you get out there and knock the rust off."

The Bears have been cautious with Long, holding him out of the offseason program and giving him occasional days off in training camp as the 2013 first-round pick rebounds from injuries to not only his shoulder but his neck and elbow.

After playing in 47 of 48 games his first three seasons with the Bears, Long has missed 14 of 32 contests the past two years due to injuries. He wants to play more in preseason games but understands that he's being groomed to handle the rigors of a lengthy season.

"Part of me wants to be out there every snap and part of me understands that it's the preseason and there's a lot of guys vying for starting spots and roles on this roster," Long said. "That's the great thing about preseason—you get to see a lot of intense competition. I have to be patient and understand it's going to be a long season when it gets here."

Long is excited about playing with promising young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who arrived at training camp this year as the Bears' undisputed starter after serving as a third-stringer behind Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez last summer in Bourbonnais.

"He's had the driver's seat since Day 1 this season," Long said of Trubisky. "He's our leader and guys know he's the leader. He's lauded in the locker room and there's a lot of respect for No. 10. We know we have to protect him in order to give us a shot. That's what we're trying to do."

General manager Ryan Pace spent the offseason collecting weapons for Trubisky and the offense, signing receivers Allen Robinson II, Taylor Gabriel and Bennie Fowler III and tight end Trey Burton in free agency and selecting receiver Anthony Miller in the second round of the draft.

"It's always nice to have good players and an abundance of them," Long said. "I think Ryan has done a great job of bringing a lot of players in. There's a lot of youth on this team and guys that are ready to step up and challenge for starting positions."

Bears photographer Jacob Funk selected his best photos from the Bears second preseason game of 2018 against the Bengals.

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