By Chris Emma–

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Bears guard Kyle Long described the hold-up in his return to the practice field like pilots going through their pre-flight check list. Finally, it seems he’s ready for takeoff.

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Long practiced in full Thursday for the first time since suffering a ligament damage in a gruesome ankle injury last November. He had surgery to repair the ligament damage shortly after and had been rehabbing back with the goal of playing in the regular-season opener. However, that hope was derailed after suffering a setback in August while pushing too hard, as he revealed Wednesday at Halas Hall.

“I was going to be ready to go during training camp and I tried to do some stuff, and I think I went a little fast,” Long said. “So, back to the patience. It’s like when you have your two pilots at the front of your plane and they’re going through all their checklists pre-flight. The last thing you want to do is have a guy who just gets in and turns the engine on and says, ‘Let’s go.’ You want to make sure everything is checked off before you go down the runway.”

With Long returning, it remains to be seen how the Bears will handle their offensive line against the Steelers on Sunday. Right guard Josh Sitton (ribs) didn’t participate in practice Thursday while reserve guard Tom Compton was limited with a hip injury. The Bears played Compton in Long’s spot at left guard and slid Bradley Sowell in at right guard after the injury to Sitton in a loss to the Buccaneers last Sunday.

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The Bears return to practice Friday at Halas Hall for one more full-go before Sunday’s game. It’s likely that final determinations will be made 90 minutes prior to kickoff with the inactives list.

Thursday’s injury report listed Sitton and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (chest) as not practicing due to injury. Compton (hip), defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (shoulder), running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) and receiver Kendall Wright (shoulder) were limited in work.

The Bears did get cornerback Prince Amukamara, running back Benny Cunningham and quarterback Mark Sanchez back to full participation along with Long.

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Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.