Perhaps the only person who didn’t notice the Mitch Trubisky hype in the past week wears No. 10 for the Bears.
Either that, or the rookie quarterback is just as elusive off the field as he is on it.
Actually, bet on the latter. Ignoring the attention Chicago has paid on its third-string quarterback is a tougher task than merely rolling right and throwing an accurate out route.
“I don’t know what hype you’re talking about,” Trubisky said with a straight face after Wednesday’s practice. “I don’t pay attention to it.”
Maybe, he admitted, he got a few more text messages from family members after he completed 18 of 25 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown in the first preseason game against the Broncos.
“I think it’s just a small step in the right direction,” he said.
Asked to define how he has progressed this summer, Trubisky’s words were far less flashy than his play.
“Steadily,” he said.
He’s right — but what is it they say about first impressions?
Another star turn against the Cardinals on Saturday night would vault the Bears into a full-fledged quarterback controversy. The rookie could see more time with the second string than he did Thursday, though it appears Mark Sanchez will play; the second-stringer returned Wednesday after taking two practices off with a bruised ankle.
The Bears have been intrigued by Trubisky’s play, of course, and want to see more.
But rather than talk about what’s at stake, Trubisky detailed the things he needs to fix. He actually called the first game a “small sample” and stressed the importance of practice to repair his mistakes. He made the wrong number of steps on his dropbacks a few times, and struggled at times to identify the middle linebacker — common errors for rookie quarterbacks.
“You can make a mistake, and that’s going to happen, especially for rookies,” he said. “But it’s all about overcoming that, learning from it, and don’t let it happen again. And I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that so far.”
Picking up blitzes actually has been harder in practice than in the first game, when the Broncos, as most teams do, played a vanilla scheme in the second half.
“In practice, I’m seeing a lot of different blitzes, and I think game-planning on a week-to-week basis will help picking up the blitzes and everything,” Trubisky said. “But I’m doing a lot better job with the protection and getting it set, helping out my backs, making sure they’re either in protection or I’m getting them out in a route to help in the progression of the play.
“It’s all about getting set and getting the protection, so I feel like I’m doing a lot better job of that.”
The Bears simplified Trubisky’s responsibilities last week by preparing a play sheet for him in the days before the Broncos game. He spoke with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains about the plays he was comfortable with, and he will do the same this week.
There are subtleties Trubisky needs to master before he can start. That won’t change, even with a good showing Saturday.
“A lot of it is knowing what we do,” coach John Fox said. “I mean, obviously, knowing your opponent and what they do comes along with that.
“But primarily, I think as a rookie at any position, and in particular quarterback, there is so much they have to know. What the O-line’s doing. Where the protection is going. And now that affects the routes. Adjusting that. Sometimes we give the quarterback the leeway to change those things. It’s a lot to learn for a young quarterback.”
Follow me on Twitter@patrickfinley.