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Chiefs activate offensive lineman Kyle Long to active roster, place 2 on IR

The former Bears All-Pro will be eligible to suit up on Sunday at Arrowhead.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

According to NFL transactions, the Kansas City Chiefs have activated offensive lineman Kyle Long from the Reserve/Physically-Unable-To-Perform list to the active roster. The move occurred just before Tuesday’s 3 p.m. deadline to put him on the roster. Long would have had to spend the remainder of the season on the team’s Reserve/PUP list without the activation.

The Chiefs have also placed running back Jerick McKinnon and defensive tackle Khalen Saunders on their Reserve/Injured list.

McKinnon was reported to have suffered a hamstring injury early in the Chiefs’ 19-9 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11.

Saunders has been inactive for the last four games. He was kept out of practice with a knee injury during Week 8, but was listed as a full practice participant with the injury in both Week 9 and Week 10 — and wasn’t even on the injury report in Week 11. So his injury is presently unknown.

The moves leave the Chiefs with 52 players on their active roster.

Long — who will turn 33 this Sunday — was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract that included up to $3.5 million in incentives in mid-March. Reported to be “healthy, happy, nasty and shredded,” after a year away from the NFL, the former Chicago Bears All-Pro was expected to compete for a starting spot on Kansas City’s newly revamped offensive line.

But in early June, Long suffered what was first called a “lower leg injury” that was expected to sideline him through training camp. (Later, we learned it was a tibial plateau fracture). At the time, it was hoped he’d be healthy enough to play by the time the season began.

But after being placed on the Active/PUP list in late June, Long remained there through training camp’s final cutdown day — which automatically placed him on the in-season Reserve/PUP list, where he was required to remain for at least six weeks of the season.

On November 9, the Chiefs designated Long to return to practice, giving him an opportunity to participate in team workouts and evaluate his ability to play. That opened a 21-day window during which he could be activated to the roster. That window was set to close Tuesday afternoon.

“He’s worked his tail off during his recovery time here,” head coach Andy Reid said of Long on Monday. “We’ll see how all of that goes here. We’re sorting through all of that [Monday]. But I appreciate having him here and doing what he’s been doing, too — and how he’s handled everything. So we’ll make the decision — and I leave that up to (general manager) Brett [Veach], doctors and that. But we’ll make that decision here [Monday].”

Now for the next question: will Long be used immediately — perhaps stepping in for third-string right tackle Andrew Wylie for the season’s stretch run — or will he play a depth role? It is certain to be one of the questions the head coach will have to answer when he meets with reporters on Wednesday.