BOURBONNAIS — Mark Sanchez took the NFL playing field for the first time pinned at his 7-yard line. On the last play of the preseason opener’s first quarter almost eight years ago, Sanchez called his first play — Jack Right Act 4 Dancer — and broke the huddle.
His mouthpiece fell out during the snap. Sanchez dropped back, looked and found David Clowney for a 48-yard completion.
“That was fun,” he said last week with a smile.
Third-string quarterback Mitch Trubisky is ready to make memories of his own Thursday night at Soldier Field when he plays in his first NFL game.
“There’s nothing that I’m going to tell him that he won’t figure out on his own,” Sanchez said. “You just have to do it, you know.
“Especially, just get those first-game jitters out. Take a hit — obviously not a major one, hopefully. Get knocked down. Complete a pass. Hand the ball off. And you’re right in the rhythm of the game, just like you remember from playing in college and high school.”
Remembering their first preseason games, here’s advice Bears veterans had for the No. 2 overall pick:
Like Sanchez, Mike Glennon’s first play was the last one of the first quarter. At his 6 four years ago, he dropped back and saw that the first receiver he looked to was covered.
The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens were rushing. The clock in his head ticked, loudly.
“I thought I was going to get sacked in the end zone,” he said. “I remember flashing like, ‘Oh, my God.’ And there was a guy open.”
It was tight end Tom Crabtree running down the right side. By the time he was tackled, the Buccaneers had gained 61 yards.
“It was kind of a good way to settle in and get going,” said Glennon, who will start Thursday against the Broncos. “It’s definitely a different experience going from college to the pros that first time.”
That first burst of confidence helped Glennon.
After Thursday, Trubisky should be able to say the same.
“I think just the biggest thing is, ‘You belong in this league,’ ” he said. “You don’t really know until you do it, and then once you do it, you finally realize it. So just go out there, play like you have your whole life, and you’ll be fine. “
Defensive end Akiem Hicks kept looking to the Saints’ reinforcements that never came.
“Is anyone going to come save me?” he asked no one in particular.
Hicks estimates he played 70 snaps in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game five years ago against the Cardinals.
He eventually stopped thinking and started reacting.
“Just go for it, man,” Hicks said. “Let loose. Don’t get caught up by what’s installed and try to play the defense perfect. Play it to the best of your ability, but, most important, don’t play with restraints. That’s not what they drafted you for.”
Preseason games are job interviews; every team in the league will watch the film. Some players can’t tune out the pressure and play fast.
“That’s who you see not be here anymore,” Hicks said.
Lead your teammates
Danny Trevathan, whose NFL debut came five years ago at Soldier Field as a Broncos linebacker, said jitters come at all ages.
“I try to tell the young guys, ‘You’re never going to get rid of that,’ ” he said.
The key, he said, is to lead your teammates. It doesn’t have to always be perfect, especially in the preseason.
“From what I saw from [Trubisky], he’s a competitor,” Trevathan said. “I’m sure he wants to win. . . . I’m gonna be in his head, telling him, ‘Take it easy, know your plays, get on top of your stuff and get your guys ready.’
“It’s a team thing; you want to be on the same page. Even if you’re all on the wrong page, you can all play fast and get right.”
Appreciate the moment
When he looked around the Dolphins’ stadium eight years ago, Zach Miller couldn’t help think how far he’d come from college.
“I was playing, like, Mankato State,” he said.
A converted Nebraska-Omaha quarterback, the former Jaguars tight end had never played special teams. He was credited with two special-teams tackles, though he claimed to have four.
“It was a surreal moment for me,” he said. “But my advice is have fun. That’s kind of what we play this game for. Have fun. Want to win. Make a living doing it.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.