Bears dealing with changes on offensive line

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — When Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler took snaps in practice Wednesday, he saw a handful of unfamiliar jersey numbers on the offensive linemen blocking for him.

This is nothing unusual for the Bears in a preseason marred by injuries, but losing Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long for any amount of time is an obstacle.

Long remains out with a shoulder injury and coach John Fox isn't giving out details about its severity.

"When he plays, he's going to play," Cutler said. "Until then, we've got a good crew out there. He'll get back out there whenever he's ready to get back out there.

"He's still in the building. He's still in meetings, still at practice, so his voice can be heard."

Cutler said it will be difficult for Long missing time.

"Just the way he carries himself through this transition that he's in now is going to speak volumes about him," Cutler said. "He's going to do it the right way."

An offensive line that included center Cornelius Edison, regular center Ted Larsen at right guard and Garry Williams at right tackle is not quite what the Bears had in mind when camp started, but that's who is blocking for Cutler heading into Saturday's home preseason game with Kansas City.

"We had a lot of guys coming in and out," Cutler said. "I think through training camp we saw a lot of different faces coming in and out of the huddle

"So I think the comfort level kind of grew a lot with a lot of guys. So it'll be a test. It's preseason. It's a good time to do these things."

Williams, who signed Aug. 4, played in 41 games for Carolina from 2009-2014. Edison was a practice squad player who moved up the depth chart when the Bears lost starting center Hroniss Grasu to a torn ACL in early August.

Larsen had to move from center to Long's spot while right tackle Bobby Massie sat out Wednesday with the flu, which caused five other Bears to miss work.

Cutler said there's no doubt Long's absence creates a gap.

"You're missing that big guy that can lock down the three-technique (defensive tackle)," Cutler said. "Whenever he's in there, you know that side is pretty much going to be void. You don't really have to worry about that. You're going to have room to step up.

"He's been a three-time Pro Bowler. He's a heck of player for good reason. We'll miss him this week, and hopefully we'll get him back soon."

Playing rookie Cody Whitehair at starting left guard seemed a risk heading into training camp. Instead, with all the injuries on the Bears' line, the second-round draft pick so far seems steady.

Whitehair has also been comfortable lining up at center with backups in preseason games.

"We plugged him in as a starter fairly early," Fox said. "We've had two live football games, not regular season but preseason. He's played multiple positions.

"His football IQ is very high. How fast he's adapted to the pro game has been pretty impressive."

NOTES: Starting running back Jeremy Langford returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out since Thursday's preseason loss in New England because of a foot injury. ... Defensive end Jonathan Bullard missed his third straight practice for what Fox called "personal reasons," but is expected back at practice Thursday.



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