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LAKE FOREST https://www.thebearsfanshop.com/Brian-Urlacher-Jersey , Ill. (AP) — Guard Kyle Long felt whole again Friday after returning to practice with the Chicago Bears for the first time since late October.Following seven missed games after foot surgery, Long is hoping to come off injured reserve in time for the Bears’ first playoff game in January, if not before.“It felt good to be in a helmet and running around,” Long said. “I don’t feel like a ghost in the building, which is nice.”Long suffered a tendon injury to his right foot on Oct. 28 in Chicago’s win over the New York Jets, and then underwent surgery and rehab.The Bears (10-4) play Sunday at San Francisco (4-10).Coach Matt Nagy couldn’t commit to Long’s return for the playoffs or possibly even next week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. Long practiced Friday only on a limited basis and the team will monitor his recovery.“Just to kind of get a feel for where he tells us he feels with everything health-wise and then also the other part, too, is when you’re out like that it’s the conditioning side too,” Nagy said. “We’ll just keep communicating and talking to him and then we’ll see what we think is best as we go. Today was a great first step.”Now in his sixth season, Long doesn’t want to miss a chance at his first postseason action.“I’ve never had a chance to play in the playoffs,” Long said. “I’m just really happy for our team. We have put ourselves in a position to be in the playoffs.“But right now we are going to San Francisco tomorrow and we’ve got business to take care of the next two weeks. There’s obviously no timeline, so I’m just trying to progress every day and make strides.”A Pro Bowler from 2013-15, Long has been plagued by injuries severe enough to require surgery the past three years. He missed 14 games in 2016 and 2017. He had surgeries last offseason to his neck Leonard Floyd Color Rush Jersey , shoulder and elbow, and the previous year suffered a gruesome ankle injury requiring surgery.“It’s really frustrating,” Long said. “If you’re a football player you want to play football, and if you can’t do that then you don’t feel like yourself. So I’m just happy we’re winning.”The Bears replaced Long with Eric Kush for one game and then former Kansas City Chiefs guard Bryan Witzmann took over for Kush.Long’s return had the Bears fired up on defense, too.“I think that it will be a morale boost to see him overcome his obstacles and be able to rejoin the team in that way,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “That guy makes me excited because you can tell that he has given everything to this game, mentally and physically, you know? So I’m always happy when a guy like that gets to come back to the game that he loves.”NOTESFree safety Eddie Jackson (right ankle) and linebacker Aaron Lynch (elbow) missed all three practices this week and are doubtful for Sunday’s game. Jackson, a Pro Bowler, would be replaced by third-year player Deon Bush in the starting lineup. … Hicks had missed Thursday’s practice because of illness but returned Friday and will play against San Francisco. NEW YORK (AP) — For the past 2½ months, one thing has been clear in the NFL: Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are hard to stop.The Saints’ winning streak reached 10 games with their 31-17 victory over Atlanta on Thanksgiving night.The Saints will play their second consecutive Thursday night game when they open Week 13 by facing the Dallas Cowboys.And it’s not the least bit surprising that the surging Saints kept the No. 1 spot in the latest AP Pro32 poll. They received all 12 first-place votes and 384 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.“Right here, right now, Drew Brees is this year’s MVP in a very crowded field of contenders Eric Kush Jersey ,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said. “At almost 40 years old, he’s playing perhaps his best football, with 29 touchdown passes and just two interceptions.”The league’s other 10-1 team, the Los Angeles Rams, stayed at No. 2 after its bye week. And the Kansas City Chiefs, who also were on a bye last week, remained No. 3.Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are still No. 4 after disposing of the New York Jets 27-13.The only change in the top five was the Chicago Bears, who inched up a spot to No. 5 after topping the Lions 23-16 on Thanksgiving as backup quarterback Chase Daniel threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns in place of the injured Mitchell Trubisky.The Los Angeles Chargers jumped two places to No. 6 after dominating Arizona 45-10 as Philip Rivers tied the NFL mark for consecutive completions at 25 and the broke record for the most to start a game.And the Houston Texans, who have won eight in a row after a 0-3 start, remained No. 7 after topping the Tennessee Titans 34-17 on Monday night.“The surging Texans honored late owner Bob McNair with an eighth consecutive victory behind a powerful ground game and the usual stingy defense,” said Ira Kaufman of Fox 13 in Tampa, Florida.The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped three spots to No. 8 after their 24-17 loss at Denver.“Big Ben blows the game in Denver,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger https://www.thebearsfanshop.com/Roquan-Smith-Jersey , who threw for 462 yards but had two interceptions and now has 12 for the season.They will look to rebound Sunday night when they host the Chargers, who are expected to be without running back Melvin Gordon, who sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during the rout of the Cardinals.The Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, who are both in contention for wild-card spots in the NFC, each moved up a spot to Nos. 9 and 10.Among the teams making the biggest drop was the Cincinnati Bengals, who plummeted five spots to No. 24. They have lost five of six after a 4-1 start and will finish the season without quarterback Andy Dalton, who went on injured reserve with a thumb injury to his throwing hand.“The record may not show it, but this could very well be the NFL’s worst team by year’s end,” said Alex Marvez of Sirius XM.
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