- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOURNONNAIS, Ill. -- Before the club could actually start the task of delivering on the high expectations set for the offense, Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery announced the team will kick off training camp without Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long, who will miss time due to a viral infection.
“He will not be available at the start of camp,” Emery said. “Kyle Long has suffered a viral infection He got hit over the weekend. He's lost a little strength because of it. Obviously he's fighting through it. [Long] won't be available through this weekend.”
Emery and head coach Marc Trestman didn’t disclose the significance of Long’s infection, but the general manager said the Bears are encouraged because the guard’s condition has improved. The club plans to re-evaluate Long next week, before making a decision about how to proceed.
The team didn’t provide a definitive timeline for Long’s recovery.
“It’s not infectious,” Emery said. “Kyle is feeling better. If it was left up to Kyle, he would be out there. We’re just going to be cautious; let him get the rest he needs. The rest is very important so he can fully recover, and so it doesn’t come back on him.”
Long isn’t expected to miss a significant amount of practice time, as the Bears won’t conduct their first actual session of training camp until Friday, a day after the club holds its conditioning test at Olivet Nazarene University. Should Long miss time on the field, it’s expected that James Brown would fill in and work with the starters at right guard.
The 20th overall pick of the 2013 draft, Long became the first Bears offensive lineman to earn Pro Bowl recognition since 2006. Long started all 16 games last season, playing a key role in the offensive line surrendering its lowest sack total since 2008 (30 sacks), while opening holes for Matt Forte to rush for 1,339 rushing yards.
Trestman called Long's offseason "excellent" and expects Long to improve on his surprising rookie campaign.
“We thought he got better certainly in the understanding of our offense, protections, hand placement, taking the proper steps," Trestman said. "He understands how important that is, where he had no clue a year ago in terms of what that is all about. [Offensive coordinator] Aaron [Kromer] has said that on many occasions and we’ve talked about that. So he’s way ahead. He’s got some confidence. He knows he can play this game. He knows he can play in this league and he wants to get better. He legitimately knows he can improve. Aaron and [offensive line coach] Pat [Meyer] have talked to him about the things that he can do to get better, and he’s going about his business doing that.”