It was something a rookie would say. Asked Friday about the Bears’ chances in 2017, Mitch Trubisky told a group of high school football players his team was going to make the playoffs this year.
Receiver Kevin White appreciated the sentiment but knew the quarterback’s words could be misconstrued.
“He’s got to be clear with some things,” White said. “People can take it the wrong way and run with it and make it seem like he’s being cocky or something.”
Protecting the rookie, White pulled Trubisky aside and suggested he clarify he wasn’t making any promises.
“I said, ‘Yeah, I think we’re gonna make the playoffs,’ ” Trubisky said a few minutes later as players filed onto the field at Wheaton-Warrenville South High School for the USA Football 7v7 Great Lakes Regional Championship. “Obviously we know we have a lot of work to do. I don’t want anyone to construe it in a way that it’s a guarantee or anything.
“But I believe in myself. I believe in my teammates. I know we’ve still got work to do. That’s what it is — I think. As a competitor, you should always go there and think we’re gonna win.”
And so, after a minor bump, Trubisky continues his offseason of saying exactly the right things. From humble tales about his beat-up car to public acceptance of an apprenticeship under starting quarterback Mike Glennon, Trubisky can only hope to thread the needle so well on game day.
Take the issue of his still-unsigned contract. While his representatives and the Bears continue to haggle over smaller details — rookie salaries are fairly standardized — Trubisky refuses to use his only piece of leverage: a holdout when the Bears report to training camp July 26.
“I’m not going to miss any practices or anything like that,” he said. “I’m excited to sign my contract as soon as possible, however that goes down. But I don’t see that being held out through training camp. Even if it did, I’m going to be practicing and all that. I’m looking forward to getting it done as soon as possible
“I’m a Chicago Bear, no matter if they let me sign or what. I guess not, but I am.”
Defensive end Joey Bosa, the No. 3 overall pick by the San Diego Chargers last year, held out for 31 days of camp while his agent and the Chargers quibbled about — among other things — offset language, the amount a team owes a player if it cuts him and he signs elsewhere. The Bears are navigating similar issues but are doing so respectfully; Trubisky said his agents and the front office have a “great” relationship.
“I’m not all sure exactly what needs to be negotiated out,” Trubisky said. “But my job is to play football. I have people to worry about that for me. [My agents] tell me not to worry. It’s going to get taken care of. I’m going to be ready to go for training camp. My mind will be in the right spot.”
Why shouldn’t he worry?
“Because there’s nothing to worry about,” he said. “It’s going to get done.”
White and running back Jordan Howard, who joined Trubisky as part of Gatorade’s Beat the Heat program Friday, both said they also believe the Bears can make the postseason.
“Last year, I felt like we had the talent to make the playoffs,” said Howard, who had eye surgery in May in hopes of improving his pass-catching. “But a lot of things didn’t go our way, with injuries and things like that.”
That’s a careful way of framing it — which Trubisky now knows more about.
“My voice holds some weight now — and I’ve just got to be careful with what I say,” he said.
So far, so good.
“That comes with part of the position,” he said. “Part of playing quarterback. Part of being drafted second overall.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.