The Chicago Bears received great news about Kyle Long on Saturday afternoon just before the playoffs.
Late Saturday afternoon, the Chicago Bears made official what most already expected and activated Kyle Long off of injured reserve. In a corresponding move, the team released third-string quarterback Tyler Bray.
But the real news is that Long, who has long been the heart and soul of this franchise, will get to play in his first playoff game. Kyle was drafted in the first round in 2013 by (trigger warning) Phil Emery. Since that time, Long has endured miserable season after miserable season, often times shining as the team’s lone bright spot.
He has maintained an incredibly positive attitude despite perpetual losing and enduring his fair share of injuries. So when he went down on October 28th against the New York Jets, any Bears fan worth their salt was heartbroken by the thought that he might miss out on a shot at the playoffs.
However, fans need no longer worry as he could return as early as Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
So when he does return, what type of impact will he have on the team?
First, fans must temper their expectations, at least in the very short term. As previously mentioned, Long hasn’t played in a game in over two months, so he will certainly be eased back into action and his snap count will be monitored.
But he is obviously an instant upgrade over Bryan Witzmann who has filled in admirably. Long is a physical specimen who is not only immovable in the passing game but is incredibly stout in the running game and will only help open up running lanes for Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard.
Beyond what he brings to the field, Long will also provide an instant boost to the team’s morale off the field as well. Not that the team needs a boost in that area, but Long is incredibly well regarded and respected in the locker room. He is looked at as a leader of the team. If there was any doubt, look no further than his response when Mitch Trubisky was hit late in the San Francisco 49ers game.
His teammates have no doubt been pulling for him to be healthy for the playoffs, so his presence on the field will have them extra amped up.
With the news that Eddie Jackson, Aaron Lynch and Allen Robinson will not be able to go on Sunday, it’s nice for the Bears to get some good news on the injury front — especially one that will serve them well in the playoffs.