BOURBONNAIS — Seventy-two hours from now, football officially is back ... at least in a small way it is.
The Hall of Fame Game slated between the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens welcomes the NFL back onto America’s television sets for the next seven months.
And with Thursday’s game looming ahead, the Chicago Bears held a light practice on Monday with no pads involved.
“There was a little bit of a lull coming off a day off, but everything began to pick up once the guys got moving,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “No changes or pads today; it was all shells so the guys were able to focus more on the mental side of things and work on our conditioning. They know they’re entering the toughest part of camp mentally and physically, so the challenge for us coaches is keep them strong.”
No one, not even Danny Trevathan, knows how he came down with his hamstring injury that kept him out for the first week of training camp.
But the seven-year linebacker was back on the field for camp Monday and ready to pick up where he left off last season.
“(The injury) happened right before camp started,” Trevathan said after practice. “It was just something that just happened out of nowhere, but I’m happy it happened as early as it did. I’m right where I need to be, and I’m working my way back in to help make this team better.”
Much around camp has been made about the absence of first-round pick Roquan Smith, but it’s the rules surrounding the helmet policy that has Trevathan’s attention, especially since he was suspended last season for his hit on Packers receiver Davante Adams.
“I understand the rule. I was an example of it,” Trevathan said. “The NFL made it clear what they want from a tackling standpoint. Even though it’s tough, I’ll do my part as a player and do what I have to do. I’m not trying to lose more money out of my pocket.”
Neither Trevathan nor Nagy have an idea if the linebacker will play in Thursday’s game, Trevathan didn’t mince words when it came to his expectations for his unit this season.
“We’re going to be the top defense in the league,” he said. “We have to get more interceptions, cause more havoc on third down and keep offenses at bay. We had a small glimpse of that last year being a top 10 defense. We have a lot of those guys back, so now it’s about working together.”
The needed veteran
In his 10-year career, Chase Daniel has been able to learn from some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, from New Orleans’ Drew Brees to Washington’s Alex Smith.
Now as the oldest active member of the Bears’ offense and roster, he has taken on a mentorship role with quarterback Mitch Trubisky, much as he did with Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz during his rookie season.
“I love being in the mentor role. I’ve been here for 10 years, so I’ve just about seen it all,” Daniel said. “It’s really important to me. I enjoy giving back as much knowledge as possible since I’ve been with a future first-ballot Hall of Famer in Drew Brees, and Alex Smith had the best passer rating in the league last season. I’ve been around some good players and I’m excited to work with Mitch.”
Daniel knows and understands what his role is on this team, which makes Nagy’s and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich’s job much easier.
Although finding that balance between when to step in to give a tip and when not to is challenging, his experiences with Philadelphia two seasons ago provided a perfect layout.
“Because of being alongside Carson Wentz, I have some practice with that,” Daniel said. “I learned when to step in with young guys and when to fall back. I think Mitch has reached the point where he likes for me to step in because he understands that I’ve been in the offense. It’s much different hearing a coach speak about it compared to a player on the field speaking about it.”
The former University of Missouri quarterback has been highly impressed with Trubisky’s progress and highly complimentary of his knowledge of the offense.
Now, he says it’s just a matter of putting it in a game situation.
“Mitch is one of the smartest young guys I’ve ever been around,” Daniel said. “You tell him something one time, and he gets it. I’ve been around guys who have to hear things multiple times before it clicks. He’s up there with Drew and Alex in terms of regurgitating the offense. Coach is always quizzing him and he doesn’t miss a beat. It’s pretty cool to see.”