Chicago Bears

How Mitch Trubisky is approaching Thursday's more-important-than-usual preseason opener

How Mitch Trubisky is approaching Thursday's more-important-than-usual preseason opener

BOURBONNAIS. Ill. — Mitch Trubisky ended Tuesday’s practice with an interception in the end zone, which “sucks,” as the No. 2 overall pick put it. The next time he takes a snap will be Thursday at Soldier Field in front of a crowd hoping to see, for the first time, why the Bears invested so heavily in him. 

“I’ll be excited, anxious to get out there on the field to show what I can do, mostly to prove to my teammates why I’m here and what I can do and just go out there and do my job and have fun,” Trubisky said. 

We’ve already seen flashes of Trubisky’s eye-popping natural ability during practices at Olivet Nazarene University, and it’s almost to the point of mundanity to see him roll to his right, keep his eyes downfield and fire a perfectly-weighted pass to (usually) a tight end. But Thursday night, when the Bears open preseason play against the Denver Broncos, will provide a different and important atmosphere. 

The last time Trubisky could be hit, he was being terrorized by then-Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas (who was selected one pick after him back in April) in El Paso, Texas during the Sun Bowl. The Bears can simulate pocket pressure during practice, but as long as Trubisky is wearing that orange non-contact jersey, it can only go so far. 

“I’m ready to get hit just to get that over with,” Trubisky said. “… We’re sitting back there in the pocket and we can’t really get a good feel in practice of when we need to get out of there, when we need to move on, when we might have been sacked. You see a couple of plays throughout practice where a big play happens but the defensive end might have had you down, might have gotten the ball out. 

“So it’ll be good to play live on Thursday, to get hit, things will move faster and to know when you need to move on and what you’ve got to do, because we don’t get hit in practice. I’m anxious to just get back to real football.”

Trubisky, as expected, will be the third quarterback used by the Bears on Thursday, behind starter Mike Glennon and backup Mark Sanchez. Coach John Fox didn’t say if Trubisky would get some work with the No. 2 offense or how long he would play, but without a fourth quarterback (Connor Shaw recently had a screw removed from his leg and will be unavailable), Trubisky can expect to see a good number of snaps. 

A worry if Trubisky is running the third-team offense for most of his time on the field is if there’s enough quality around him to make those snaps productive, but Fox said there will be enough mixing and matching between the offensive units that it shouldn’t be an issue. 

“We’ll make sure we get quality work regardless of whether we call them ones, twos or threes,” Fox said. 

Thursday will be another step along a long path of development for Trubisky, one that — if everything goes according to plan — will take him to being the Bears’ starting quarterback for well into the future. He’s not there yet, though, so these preseason games do carry plenty of significance given he may not get many opportunities when the games start to actually count for something. 

““Just play great situational football, control the game,” Trubisky said of his goals for Thursday. “Each time I’m in there with my teammates just show command at the line of scrimmage, drive the ball down the field, be efficient, pick up first downs and hopefully finish in the end zone a couple times. It’s all about taking care of the football, going out there having fun and doing my job.”

What you need to know from Bears practice: Kyle Long gets ankle checked out, expresses remorse for Monday fights

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USA TODAY

What you need to know from Bears practice: Kyle Long gets ankle checked out, expresses remorse for Monday fights

Coach John Fox said Kyle Long expressed “remorse” and was “embarrassed” after being kicked out of Monday’s final training camp practice in Bourbonnais for sparking a pair of skirmishes with teammates.

Long hasn’t been available to the media since his pair of physical outbursts on Monday, and wasn’t at practice Wednesday. Fox said Long was at a doctor’s appointment to get his surgically-repaired ankle checked out, but is expected to be back at practice on Thursday.

Long’s father, NFL on Fox analyst Howie Long, addressed his son’s practice ejection on the Rich Eisen Show on Tuesday.

“He’s gotta get it under control,” Long said. “It’s one of those things where you’re coming back from injury and you’re switching positions, maybe you’re not where you want to be right now.”

Fox said “everything’s fine” with Long after talking with him, and understood where he could be frustrated by slowly being eased back into full team activities during practice (and possibly not playing in any preseason games).

“I think any time a player's injured, they get something that they love taken away from them,” Fox said. “It's been a minute, there's some pain and suffering that goes along with it and I'm sure those are things. But we have a lot of resources here, Kyle knows he's loved here, by his teammates and by everyone in the building. He'll get through it and we talked about that and I think he feels confident in that.”

From the sick bay

Cornerback Prince Amukamara didn’t participate in practice Wednesday due to a strained hamstring and is day-to-day, Fox said. Wide receiver Markus Wheaton had surgery on his fractured pinkie, too, Fox said.

There was some good news for the Bears on Wednesday, though, with Jeremy Langford and Mark Sanchez both participating in practice. Langford isn’t quite back to full health after spraining his ankle during a walkthrough in July, but sounded confident he can get back to that level.

“I think my main thing is getting back to 100 percent and being the player that I am and can be, and the rest will take care of itself,” Langford said.

Mitch Trubisky isn't buying (or paying attention to) the hype around him

Mitch Trubisky isn't buying (or paying attention to) the hype around him

Mitch Trubisky has to at least be aware of the hype he created with his standout preseason debut last week, right? 

“I don’t know what hype you’re taking about,” Trubisky said. “I don’t pay attention to it.”

This is coming from a guy who earlier during training camp said he’s “so good” at tuning out the outside noise, whether it’s coming from social media or traditional media. But even if Trubisky was playing coy and is aware of what’s being said and debated about him, he didn’t sound like someone willing to buy into that hype.

“I think it’s just a small step in the right direction,” Trubisky said of his first preseason game. “I still got a lot of work to do. I was pleased with how I played, but plenty more mistakes are going on during practice for me that I need to work on and continue to improve in my game and make sure when I go out there that I’m doing my job to help other people do their job.”

The mistakes Trubisky identified he made in the Denver game are about what you’d expect from a rookie quarterback making the transition from a college spread offense to the NFL (like taking the wrong drop). The Broncos second/third/fourth-string defenses didn’t throw much at him, either, so a lot of his work on identifying blitzes and setting protections is having to happen in practice. 

So there is plenty on which for Trubisky to work during practices and the Bears’ remaining three preseason games. Like coach John Fox — who said after Thursday’s game he wouldn’t blow up the depth chart for one preseason game — Trubisky wasn’t putting a whole lot of emphasis on what he did against Denver, as good as it may have been. 

“I think it just showed me that I’m making progress, that I could go out there and lead and do my job like I wanted to show,” Trubisky said. “But it was just a small sample. It was the first game, and you just gotta continue to be consistent in reproducing it. that’s why we’re out here working and practicing.”