Chicago Bears

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.”

Why the Bears ‘f***ing loved’ what Jordan Howard showed them on Sunday

Why the Bears ‘f***ing loved’ what Jordan Howard showed them on Sunday

After fighting off the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense for Jordan Howard, the Bears’ offensive line still sounded as if they wanted to keep blocking for a running back who wowed them with his toughness in Sunday’s 23-17 overtime win. 

Howard, who NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder, was clearly playing through pain against Pittsburgh. He was helped off the field multiple times by trainers and was trying to protect his banged-up shoulder on some of his runs in the second half. But he quickly returned to the game after those scares, which was not lost on the guys leading the way for him. 

“He’s tough,” right guard Kyle Long said, emphasizing the word tough. “And toughness is something that’s talked about in football a lot, but Jordan Howard’s tough. He really is.” 

“He’s a f***ing soldier, man,” right tackle Bobby Massie said. “He was a Pro Bowler for a reason.” 

“F***ing loved it,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “I loved it. It showed that he cared and wanted to be out there for us, and it made me go harder. I just told him that — it made me want to block for him extra hard. And when he does that and he shows that courageousness, man, comes out there and keeps battling back after we know he’s hurting, I’m going to give it everything I got for that guy.”

The Bears’ offensive line (and tight ends and wide receivers, it should be said) continually opened up lanes for Howard despite the Steelers knowing what was coming. Mike Glennon and the Bears’ passing attack didn’t stretch the field and only saw one wide receiver catch a pass (Deonte Thompson about halfway through the fourth quarter), but no matter how much the Steelers schemed to play the run, Howard kept hitting creases and getting into the second level, where he’s at his most effective. 

“He’s a tough son of a gun,” coach John Fox said. “The more you have of those, the better off you are and the better chances you have to win.”

Howard finished with 138 yards on 23 carries — an average of six yards per attempt — after only gaining 59 yards on 20 carries in his first two games of the season. His walk-off touchdown was a fitting end to This was a reminder, as Massie said, of why Howard was a Pro Bowler and the NFL’s second-leading rusher last year — even as he wasn't at 100 percent. 

“Sometimes I was hurt pretty bad,” Howard said. “I didn’t feel like I could finish. But Benny Cunningham, he kept pushing me through, and my coach, and I just saw my team – they kept fighting, so I had to keep playing.”

Under Center Podcast: Bears run strong in OT win against Steelers

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears run strong in OT win against Steelers

Alex Brown and Jim Miller join Laurence Holmes to break down how the Bears got themselves in the win column on Sunday against the Steelers.

Jordan Howard was the game’s MVP but how well can the Bears run the ball going forward if he is banged up and the Bears continue to struggle throwing the ball?

Plus, Marcus Cooper’s fumble on the goal line nearly cost the Bears the game. What do the guys think about the effort level after a gaffe like that – especially on a short week heading into Thursday night’s matchup against the rival Packers?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: