That big finish Chicago Bears coach John Fox wants to see appears less and less likely as injuries continue to mount for his struggling 3-9 team.
For the second straight year, right guard Kyle Long, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, will end the NFL season on injured reserve.
Long was placed on I.R. on Tuesday, which also was his 29th birthday. The 6-foot-6, 313-pounder will miss the final four games of the Bears’ bad-and-getting-worse season.
He left Sunday’s 15-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers early in the second quarter with what the Bears called a shoulder injury. Reserve lineman Tom Compton replaced Long in the lineup.
Long injured his shoulder last season but decided against postseason labrum surgery, partly because he also needed his severely sprained right ankle to be repaired surgically.
The ankle injury caused him to miss the final eight games in 2016. There were complications following that procedure, forcing Long to miss the first two games this year. He sat out Week 10 with a finger injury.
By the end of this season, Long will have missed 15 of the past 32 games due to injuries. He played all 48 games in his first three seasons, going to the Pro Bowl each year.
But the former first-round pick (20th overall) in 2013 has not been the same player since 2015, his last healthy season. He has been in and out of the lineup and has not played at anything close to a Pro Bowl level the past two seasons.
Just before the start of the 2016 season, Long signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension that included $18 million in guaranteed money, although he still had two years remaining on his rookie deal.
If there’s an upside to shutting down Long now, it’s that he will have an additional month to get back to 100 percent for the 2018 season, the first year of his contract extension.
The Bears also placed defensive lineman Mitch Unrein on injured reserve Tuesday following the knee injury that knocked him out of Sunday’s game. Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris will get additional snaps to fill the void left by the loss of Unrein.
The Bears have lost nine starters overall this season. Eric Kush, the team’s top backup interior offensive lineman, went on injured reserve in early August with a torn hamstring.
On Tuesday, the Bears signed linebacker Howard Jones and offensive linemen Cameron Lee from their practice squad to replace Long and Unrein. They also signed offensive lineman Will Pericak and tight end Colin Thompson to the practice squad.
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