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.”