With Super Bowl expectations heavy on their minds, the Chicago Bears will begin preparations in earnest for the 2019 season this week when they report to Bourbonnais for training camp.
As the team arrives in the Chicago suburb, we’re taking a look at 10 of the players that will have the biggest impact on the Bears’ fortunes in the coming year, and today we’re focusing on offensive lineman Kyle Long.
How 2018 Went for Long:
Long was having one of the best seasons of his career as the Bears' offensive line had gelled into a cohesive unit, but unfortunately for the lineman he was placed on injured reserve Nov. 3 with a foot injury.
Long did manage to make it back for the Bears' playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles, but it was yet another season marred by injury for the talented guard, as he's missed a total of 22 games over the last three seasons.
The Biggest Question He’ll Face:
Simply put, Long will need to prove that he can stay healthy in the new season. The Bears have kept their entire offensive line intact for the coming season, with James Daniels and Cody Whitehair likely permanently switching spots between left guard and center, but Long is going to be a key piece in the equation if the Bears are going to have a successful run game in 2019.
If Long can stay healthy and productive, then the Bears are significantly better up front than they are if he's out of the equation. The Bears aren't exactly flush with depth at the lineman position, so they'll surely take things slowly with Long in training camp and the preseason, much like they did a season ago.
The Bears held opponents to 33 sacks last season, and although Long missed a large chunk of the season, he was still a big part of that success in keeping Mitchell Trubisky upright.
This season, we're predicting that the Bears' line as a whole will perform similarly well, and will be made to look a lot better in the run-blocking department thanks to the additions of Mike Davis and David Montgomery.
As for Long, we're predicting he'll appear in his most games since 2015, with 12 games under his belt in the coming year. There's no scientific reasoning behind the pick, but with a talented group and the possibility of being cut by the team after the season on his mind, we're expecting a slightly better season out of number 75.
For more on our examination of the 10 Bears players to watch this season:
7/26 - Safety Eddie Jackson
7/25 - Wide receiver Anthony Miller
7/25 - Defensive end Akiem Hicks
7/24 – Cornerback Kyle Fuller
7/24 – Tight end Trey Burton