Kyle Long broke the Bears' huddle early Sunday afternoon and crouched in his stance at right tackle for his first professional snap at the position. The move had been expected since early last week, but it was extraordinary nonetheless.
The Bears, after all, went through the entire preseason auditioning two other right tackles but went into Sunday's season opener banking on their untested Plan C. They moved Long, their two-time Pro Bowl right guard, to tackle and bumped veteran guard Vladimir Ducasse into the starting lineup.
Long was open to the challenge, and that's exactly what his debut proved to be in the Bears' 31-23 loss to the Packers.
"I had my struggles individually, and I did some things that I can keep my head up," he said. "I thought I played pretty hard. You've got to move on and make progress every week."
Long's athleticism showed throughout the game, validating why the Bears believe he will grow into the position over time. Despite injuring his right hand early in the game, he played a key role in the Bears' success on the ground.
But the growing pains also were evident, which was to be expected against the likes of Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers. Peppers beat Long with a rip move for a sack on a third-and-9 on the Bears' second series.
Long's teammates graded him on a curve after the game, understanding the difficulty of playing a new position with only one week of practice.
Long was realistic about the technique mistakes he'll see on the game video, and he's intent on correcting them.
"If they didn't I think was too atrocious," he said, "I'll continue to play out there."
Game plan: Alshon Jeffery played sparingly in the first half but finished with five catches for 78 yards in his first game action of the year. He missed 27 days and all four exhibitions with a strained calf, returning to practice Wednesday.
"I felt pretty good out there," he said.
Jeffery was on the sideline for most of the Bears' first three series. The Bears frequently used three tight ends, but Jeffery also stayed out of the game in some multiple-receiver formations.
"We were just sticking with the game plan, whatever the personnel was and the call was," he said.