The last time the Chicago Bears asked Kyle Long to change positions, it was a week before the 2015 season opener against the Green Bay Packers. Long went form right guard to right tackle that season, and even though he had some growing pains, he settled into his new role and made the Pro Bowl for a third straight year. He wasn’t an initial selection, but he got the nod as an alternate.
Long has always said he’d play wherever the team needed him to play, so he may be on the move again.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that “the Bears are in the process of shifting Long to left guard for the 2017 season.” This would necessitate a flip between Long and Josh Sitton, who played in the Pro Bowl last year after making 12 starts at left guard for the Bears. Long did play some left guard during his brief time at Oregon in 2012.
Sitton actually has started more games at right guard, than he has at left guard, in his nine years in the NFL. Teams often want their better run blockers on the right side, with better athletes on the left, so this move would give the Bears exactly that. The potential hiccup, is the injury — or injuries — that Long is still rehabbing from.
He only played eight games last year before injuring his right ankle that required surgery, but before his ankle issue, he was dealing with a torn labrum to his left shoulder. He didn't go under the knife for the labrum, instead opting to focus on the ankle rehab and treat the shoulder with physical therapy and rest.
With OTAs beginning on Monday, Long has yet to be cleared to practice. While going from right guard to left guard isn’t as difficult a transition as going guard to tackle, I would imagine the Bears would like him to have as much time to get acclimated as possible. Keeping an eye on where Sitton lines up this week should give us a clue to the Bears’ 2017 plans.