Splitting up reps for Mitch Trubisky, Mike Glennon the ‘biggest challenge’ for Bears coaches

Splitting up reps for Mitch Trubisky, Mike Glennon the ‘biggest challenge’ for Bears coaches

Mitch Trubisky took part in his first practice at Halas Hall on Friday, running through drills and seven-on-seven work as the Bears began the development process for the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. 

An unpadded practice with a roster of rookies and veterans on tryouts isn’t exactly the time for far-reaching analyses of how Trubisky will grow with the Bears — “I don’t know that we’re quite ready after one practice to define his career,” coach John Fox quipped. But this weekend’s rookie minicamp is an opportunity for Trubisky to take almost all of the reps at quarterback before Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez and Connor Shaw join him for OTAs later this month and in June. 

Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said the “biggest challenge” coaches have will be dividing up practice reps between their starting quarterback (Glennon) and their quarterback of the future (Trubisky). Shaw, too, is the only returning quarterback from last year’s roster, though he suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason.

“We have to be really smart with our plan and how we practice, because it’s not just one guy, it’s two guys and there’s Mark and there’s Connor,” Loggains said. “So we need to make sure that we’re getting everyone ready to play.”

While Fox didn’t rule out Trubisky winning the starting job by Week 1, as Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz did last year, the Bears have been adamant that Glennon will be their starting quarterback in 2017. But developing Trubisky likely requires giving him more reps than a typical backup may typically receive. 

Loggains emphasized the Bears will be flexible with how those practice reps are divided once they get a better opportunity to assess Glennon and Trubisky. One option could be to run longer practices, though that could be risky for a team that was sunk in part by plenty of significant injuries a year ago. 

If there’s a silver lining to Trubisky only starting 13 games at North Carolina, it’s that he learned how to grow while being a backup during his first three years on campus. Figuring how to take “mental reps” while on the sidelines was an important part of his growth, which culminated in 3,748 yards and 30 touchdowns his senior year. 

“It’s about how good you want to be,” Trubisky said. “You could get better every play whether you’re in there or not. So when you’re on the side, just going through the call in your head, going through your progressions, what you have to do as a quarterback, and just take every single rep whether you’re out there or not.”

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”