By Chris Emma–
(CBS) For the third time in as many years, Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long will play in the Pro Bowl.
Early Thursday, Long was playing Grand Theft Auto when he received a phone call from an out-of-area number. It was John Fox with “urgent” news. He’s headed back to the Pro Bowl.
“I’m just really appreciative of this,” Long said. “It’s a blessing to be invited to this and represent the Bears again.”
Long worked through a transition to right tackle this season, willingly making the team-first move after earning a Pro Bowl nod for his first two seasons as a right guard. While the switch came with occasional struggles, he’s proved to be a Pro Bowl talent during the first three seasons of his Bears career.
Just 10 days into the offseason, Long is already looking ahead — beyond his Pro Bowl appearance.
“The big word for me next year is ‘consistency,'” Long said.
The selection of Long provides the Bears their only Pro Bowl player for this season. Long is replacing Eagles tackle Jason Peters, who isn’t able to participate due to a season-ending injury.
In making the Pro Bowl for his first three seasons, Long joins elite Bears company: Brian Urlacher, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, Rick Casares and Harlon Hill are the only others to accomplish that.
Following the announcement of the initial Pro Bowl roster, Long was asked if he was disappointed not to be included. Instead, he made a case for teammate Matt Slauson.
Long is already eager to get going with the Bears in preparing for the 2016 season. He was thrilled of the news that came on Monday, with the team promoting quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains to the position of offensive coordinator.
“I couldn’t see Jay without him,” said Long, “and I couldn’t see this offense without him.”
The Bears are committed to Long as a tackle in the long term, though it remains to be seen which side he will play. That will be a decision for Fox and general manager Ryan Pace.
Following a disappointing 6-10 season, Long received high praise from his teammates for a commendable effort in making the move to a new position.
“It’s been a fun process this year, but there have been tough times,” Long said.
Now, Long’s been rewarded for his efforts in a tough transition.