The Chicago Bears had dealt with a number of injuries over the past few years to key players, which has hurt the team's play. Now in rebuild-mode they want to avoid other major injuries going forward. Unfortunately, they are still dealing with some significant ones during the preseason.

Offensive lineman Kyle Long is one of the players dealing with significant injuries and is one of the team's best assets. The three-time pro bowler is still recovering from surgery due to complications from an ankle injury he suffered last year which ended his 2016 season in November.

Long only participated in eight games last season after playing in 47 games his first three years in the NFL. While he has participated in football activity, he has not played in any preseason games in 2017. The goal is to have him fully ready for the start of the regular season to support an offensive line that is protecting a decent number of young players mixed in with some veterans.

Long's value

Drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, the now 28-year old guard has been one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL since his rookie year. His resume contains three straight pro bowl seasons; 2013 and 2014 as a right guard and 2015 as a tackle when he was moved over.

While his versatility on the line showed he was worthy of pro bowl honors in both a guard and tackle position, he was moved back to guard in 2016 by head coach John Fox. His play also earned him a nice $30 million extension with the Bears last year.

The line he has played on was bolstered before last season when GM Ryan Pace signed another pro bowl guard to join him in Josh Sitton.

On paper, having both Sitton and Long on the same line at their respective position makes for arguably the best guard-duo in the NFL. The team did not get much of that line duo playing together last year as Long missed eight games and Sitton missed three. The plan going into 2017 is moving Long over to left guard when he is ready to play and have Sitton over at right guard.

Injury problem

As mentioned before, Long played in 47 games in his first three NFL seasons (2013-2015) which is only missing one game. It was last November in Tampa Bay when he suffered ligament damage in his right ankle during a game against the Bucs. The injury caused massive amounts of bruising along his ankle and he needed surgery. The surgery was successful and has since been working on rehabilitation.

During the preseason he has been working his way back into drills and practices as he continues to get his ankle back to 100% healthy. Though he has not seen preseason game action, he has been making progress with his rehab and getting back into football activities. Earlier this week John Fox reported that he missed some time due to both an on-field fight with teammates and seeing his doctor to get his ankle re-examined.

Long was able to come back later in the week to practices after his exam.

Whether he gets any preseason game time is unknown, yet the progress he has made in recovery at least shows good signs that he will be ready for the regular season. He is one of those guys that is essential to have on the offensive unit now and in the future.