PRO FOOTBALL

Rookie Kyle Long helps keep Bears loose and focused on Packers

2013-12-27T17:45:00Z 2014-01-01T22:23:06Z Rookie Kyle Long helps keep Bears loose and focused on PackersAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
December 27, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

LAKE FOREST | The Bears' locker room was up for grabs the day after Christmas.

In the middle, jumping and skipping around like a wild man, arms flailing about, was partially clad, 6-foot-6, 313-pound Kyle Long impersonating a teammate's rant over a bad officiating call.

Matt Forte sat at his cubicle, doubled over in laughter.

This was Bears-Packers week with a playoff berth at stake and loser go home, but the mood at Halas Hall was as loose as a pair of Zubaz.

Providing much of the comic relief on this day was right guard Kyle Long, hardly your typical introverted rookie hiding in the corner.

When a writer brought that fact to his attention, Long smiled and leaned back.

"I'll stay in the corner more often then," he said, jokingly. "I'm a high-energy guy. That's who I am. Love it or hate it, that's what you're gonna get.

"I'll be here for a while, so let me know if I should change. I'm just trying to earn the respect of the guys around me on the field and in the classroom."

As a starter this season, Long has done that by helping to anchor a rebuilt offensive line.

"If being a high-energy guy and trying to set the tempo is what it takes, along with playing football, then that's what I'll give until I'm told otherwise," he said.

"I'm just being myself."

No need for pep talks and 'Monsters of the Midway' references to put these Bears (8-7) in the mood.

Last week's 43-point loss at Philadelphia is the only motivation Long and his teammates need for Sunday's rematch with the visiting Packers (7-7-1).

Long acknowledged the missed chance to wrap up the NFC North title with the loss against the Eagles. "But we've got a great opportunity this Sunday against an opponent that we played before.

"It'll be a great opportunity for us to bounce back. We all understand that this is it for us. Playoffs start this Sunday. Got to win to get in, win to stay alive."

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