Updated: September 1, 2014 8:10AM
BOURBONNAIS — Fans attending the Bears’ Family Fest on Saturday at Soldier Field could have a special treat: a healthy Kyle Long taking part in practice.
The second-year guard has been sidelined by a viral infection since the start of training camp. But the Bears said Wednesday that he’s been cleared to practice and will begin conditioning.
“He’s got to get his legs back underneath him,” coach Marc Trestman said. “I think by Saturday night you’ll see him in pads. We’ll work him into individual [drills] in pads on Saturday night. That would be the hope and we’ll take it from there. If we feel he’s got his feet underneath him and his pads are where they should be, we’ll see where Saturday night goes, and with Sunday off, we’ll be ready to go. That would be the plan, but we’re going to take one day at a time. We always do here. But to be forthright with you, that’s what we hope and we think we can get that done.”
Eben Britton, Brian de la Puente and Michael Ola have each played for Long with the first-team offense.
Trestman said Long has been doing “minimal things” but that his conditioning will “accelerate” during the rest of the week.
Long briefly spoke with the media while jogging off the practice fields.
“I’m really excited,” Long said. “Yes, it’s killing me. I’m really excited to get back to work.”
Safety battle deepens
Ryan Mundy continues to hold off Adrian Wilson at strong safety, but the competition at free safety featured an unexpected participant Wednesday: Danny McCray. He took the place of rookie Brock Vereen, who had held the spot since organized team activities.
McCray spent four years with the Cowboys before signing a one-year deal with the Bears and reuniting with special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.
With only 10 career starts, McCray was considered just a special-teams addition. But the Bears have lived up to their promise that the competition would be wide open.
“Everyone has an equal chance,” McCray said.
“Danny has worked to an extent that he gets a chance to get some work there,” Trestman said.
“We just wanted to see how Brock handles the situation. And how does Danny handle moving up? It all goes into the gathering of information to make decisions at the end.”
Vereen admitted to having “setbacks that a rookie would,” but said it was no excuse.
“In my mind, I’m still a rookie who has to prove he belongs on the 53-man roster,” he said. “I’m far too young to even worry about starting, not starting, whatever. In my mind, I still need to prove I’m worthy of being on this team.”
On the sidelines
Britton injured his left hamstring during one-on-one drills against defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff. Britton was carted off the field, but he later said he should be fine. He’s officially day-to-day.
Receiver Alshon Jeffery (sore foot) fully participated in practice, while cornerback Tim Jennings (sore quadriceps) was limited.