When Bears coach John Fox said linebacker Danny Trevathan was ‘‘way ahead of schedule’’ in his recovery from surgery on his right knee at the start of training camp, it registered a 0.0 on the believability meter.
The Bears haven’t had much luck with injuries in Fox’s two seasons, and Fox’s record on addressing them is almost as dubious. Nothing about the Bears in Fox’s two seasons has been ahead a schedule, let alone ‘‘way ahead’’ of schedule.
And even though Trevathan avoided the dreaded physically unable-to-perform list at the start of camp, his participation was very limited in the first two weeks and he was almost invisible at practice. It looked like an all-too-familiar scenario.
But since the Bears’ preseason opener Aug. 10 against the Broncos, the eye test is confirming Fox’s rosy outlook. Trevathan started participating in 11-on-11 drills this week and is moving as though he doesn’t need the orange ‘‘injury’’ jersey he has been wearing. He’s more active and more noticeable each time he steps on the field.
‘‘There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be ready for Week 1,’’ Trevathan said. ‘‘It’s up to [the front office]. I’m feeling great about it, but it’s their call.’’
It remains to be seen if that happens and if Trevathan will be the same player when he returns to the field. The torn patellar tendon Trevathan suffered in November is a noted career-killer that historically has been more challenging than a torn anterior cruciate ligament to overcome.
But Fox said he has seen indicators that Trevathan’s progress is real.
‘‘His movement skills,’’ Fox said. ‘‘Coming off that particular injury, it’s about stability and confidence in stability. You kind of build up on that resistance to people throwing themselves at you and leaning on you. It’s the stability with that added pressure. So we’re in that phase now.’’
Trevathan has a history of repeated injuries but also of recovering well from major surgery. In 2014 with the Broncos, he played in only three games because of three injuries to his left knee — two fractures and a dislocated kneecap that required a replacement and reconstruction.
But he recovered quickly enough to play in the final preseason game in 2015 and had a stellar season while adjusting to a new position in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense. He led the Broncos in tackles during the regular season and playoffs and helped them win the Super Bowl against the Panthers.
So while this injury is a bigger challenge, you can’t blame Trevathan for believing in himself.
‘‘It’s tough to come back from any injury, but [particularly] something with the knee — patellar tendon, ACL,’’ Trevathan said. ‘‘But there was no doubt in my mind I was going to come back. [That’s] the kind of guy I am. I work through anything.
‘‘I’ve been through the lowest point of my life, and I just worked my tail off, kept my faith strong and thought about the rewards. I don’t want my two daughters and my wife to look at me crazy. I want to be that guy that works and appreciates everything and comes back to be one of the great ones.’’
Trevathan still has a long way to go to reach that level. He not only has to get back on the field in a regular-season game, but he has to stay healthy and make a bigger impact in his second season in coordinator Vic Fangio’s defense than he did in his first.
‘‘I learn real well, especially in my second year in a defense,’’ Trevathan said. ‘‘I know how this defense goes. I know what [Fangio’s] going to call sometimes before he calls it. I look forward to the challenge.’’
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.