Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan returned last week against the Colts after missing two games following thumb surgery, but he wasn’t all there.
“It wasn’t my best game by far,” he said. “Mentally, I kind of let it slip away. I’ve got to get back in the groove. Physically, I was fine. Mentally, I’ve just got to get it right.”
Trevathan blamed it on rust. “Just getting a feeling for the game again and learning the defense,” he said. “Once I got in there and got it moving, the second half I felt better.”
With another week of practice and another week for his thumb to heal, Trevathan expects to be looser, more instinctive and ready to play more like himself against the Jaguars on Sunday at Soldier Field.
“I feel way better,” he said. “Not worrying about my hand so much because I’ve got a game under my belt — I know I can play with it. I’m not too concerned with it.
“Just knowing the plays and being comfortable with [Vic Fangio’s] play calling, flying around and having fun — that’s what it’s all bout. I got to that [point], but I’m really back into it now.”
Coach John Fox noticed the difference. “As far as getting back into the schemes and some of the things we’re doing, obviously it was way more comfortable for [Trevathan] this week than last week — just getting the extra reps and moving around full speed,” Fox said. “I think those are critical things that are important in how you perform.”
The return of Trevathan at full speed — physically and mentally — would be a boost the Bears’ defense needs at this point of the season. Injuries have short-circuited the development of Fangio’s defense — never more evident than last week against Andrew Luck and the Colts. The Bears had five sacks, but still could not contain Luck, who threw for 322 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 29-23 victory.
Have they finally turned the corner? This was a pretty good week at Halas Hall for Fangio’s defense. McPhee, out all season after undergoing knee surgery in January, returned to practice and could be active against the Packers on Thursday. Trevathan expects to be closer to 100 percent. Even cornerback Bryce Callahan’s return to practice on a limited basis after leaving the Colts game with a hamstring injury should be considered a victory. Hamstrings are rarely kind to the Bears, yet Callahan is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars.
The potential return of McPhee in itself — “another monster on the field,” Trevathan called it — provides a light at the end of the tunnel for the Bears defense.
“He’s a big lift,” Trevathan said. “Just having him in our back pocket and then right there on the cusp of being ready and out there on the field, actually with us in pads, swaggin’ up out there with us — it felt good to have that man out there. It’s definitely going to give us an extra push heading into [Sunday’s] game.”
The defense could use it. At full strength, the Bears have potential to develop a defense with some bite. But the injuries have exposed their inexperience and lack of depth. The Bears have just four takeaways in five games — three interceptions, one fumble recovery — tied for 26th in the league. Their last defensive touchdown was three seasons ago — Zack Bowman’s 43-yard interception return against the Browns in 2013. That was one of five defensive scores under defensive coordinator Mel Tucker that year —a legacy of Lovie Smith’s defense. They had nine defensive scores in Lovie’s final year of 2012.
That seems like ages ago now. These Bears have a long way to go. But they’ve got to get healthy first.