It was reported last week by multiple outlets that Chicago Bears QB Mark Sanchez suffered a knee injury during last Tuesday's OTA practice. Sanchez was not in attendance today, meaning first-round QB Mitch Trubisky took reps with the second team behind Mike Glennon.
"I’m getting about the same number of reps, maybe a little more, but instead of the threes, I’m with the twos," Trubisky said after practice. "So it’s getting the reps, getting comfortable and whoever I’m with, whenever I’m in the huddle, it’s taking command and doing my job."
With veterans Glennon and Sanchez ahead of him on the roster, the Bears were in no rush to thrust Trubisky, who had just 11 collegiate starts, into early action this off-season. Yet Trubisky took every snap with the second-team today, playing alongside many teammates who will be full-time contributors this season.
"I’ve made a lot of progress. I’d say I’m getting better every day. I’m getting a little bit more comfortable every day," said Trubisky. "I’m studying a lot. I’ve put in more work on this playbook than I’ve put into anything in my life. And yeah, it’s coming along great. I’m getting more and more comfortable. I’ve seen strides in different areas every day. That’s what it’s all about."
Trubisky threw 30 touchdowns and just six interceptions during his only full season as a starter in 2016 but he has struggled at times the past three weeks with the speed of the NFL game.
"[Adjusting] to the speed of the game [has been difficult]," he said. "There are amazing athletes all over the field, offense, defense, and it's just getting used to that."
That adjustment has resulted in a number of interceptions during practice.
"It's better in practice than in the game, but obviously you never want to throw interceptions," he said. "I take a lot of pride in that, taking care of the football, that's the No. 1 priority, obviously. If you take care of the football you're going to have a chance to win every game. I'm hard on myself, just go back on the film and know in the back of your mind you can only grow from it, you can only get better, and you got to take care of the football — it's a huge part of it."
In addition to ball security, Trubisky and the coaching staff have brought him back to basics in terms of fundamentals and technique. That in itself has been challenging, as the North Carolina passer never had to play under center for the Tar Heels.
"Sometimes I see myself on film going back to my old footwork at North Carolina, and that’s just muscle memory," he said. "So I’m trying to get rid of those habits and just get into the new footwork, because if I do what I’m coached to do here I’ll be successful, and that’s what I do. I come out here, I try to be as coachable a player as possible and it’s all going to come within the offense. So if I stay within the offense, do my job, hopefully good things happen.
"It’s more of my footwork. My throwing motion is what it is, I've got a quick release and I could throw the ball accurately as long as I bring my feet with me. So that’s what coach says, do the footwork, bring your feet with you, get through your progression and use your eyes well. So as long as my shoulders are level and I pull through with my hips, the ball should be where it’s supposed to go."
The reality of the situation is that Trubisky is far from ready for live NFL action, yet here he is just one injury away from being the starting signal caller in the league's third largest media market.
The only other quarterback on the roster is Connor Shaw, who was released last Tuesday just hours before Sanchez was hurt.
“It was a wild day, unique circumstances," Shaw said. "Released early in the morning and then unfortunately Mark goes down in practice and I get the callback later on on the way back to South Carolina. It was a wild day. It was a good thing the next day was a day off to get my mind back on track. But good to be here.”
Shaw has played in just one NFL game, attempting 28 passes for the Browns in the 2014 regular season finale. Other than that, his only other NFL experience is in the preseason, which puts him nearly on par with Trubisky. As such, don't expect Shaw to leapfrog Trubisky on the depth chart any time soon.
Injuries can destroy even a team's best-laid plans and, with Sanchez on the shelf, the only thing preventing Trubisky from taking first-team reps is an injury to Glennon, an immobile QB who will be playing behind two shaky offensive tackles.
The Bears drafted Trubisky with the intention of letting him sit his rookie year but unless the team receives great fortune this season - both in terms of injuries and the win-loos column - it's very likely he'll be playing at some point in 2017, quite possibly earlier than most predict.