Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky has come in cold and caught fire before.
It happened in North Carolina’s 41-14 victory against Delaware on Sept. 26, 2015.
Trubisky replaced struggling starter Marquise Williams on the Tar Heels’ last possession of the first half and finished 17-for-20 for 312 yards and four touchdowns. He helped turn a close game — North Carolina led 13-7 at halftime — into a rout.
That performance became an essential part of the Bears’ evaluation of Trubisky as the team scoured his work beyond his one season as the Tar Heels’ starter. He was resilient and stayed prepared regardless of his situation.
There was more, too.
On Nov. 28, 2015, Trubisky replaced Williams, who lost his helmet, for a play against North Carolina State and immediately threw a touchdown pass on third-and-goal from the 5. He eluded pressure from his blind side and fired a strike across his body. He gave the Tar Heels an early lead in an eventual 45-34 victory.
“[It’s] preparing as a starter at all times,” Trubisky said Friday. “And then [it’s] just being ready to come off the bench at any given moment and being ready to play and help your team.”
It’s why the Bears are comfortable with putting Trubisky in that spot Sunday against the Falcons at Soldier Field.
After earning the Bears’ backup job, Trubisky is one play away from replacing Mike Glennon should he get injured. Trubisky might not be ready to start in the Bears’ eyes, but he’s ready to play, if needed.
“I’d feel pretty confident about Mitch playing in any game,” coach John Fox said. “You know, I want everybody to stay healthy, though. Let’s make that fact very clear.”
It’s also clear that Trubisky continues to impress everyone at Halas Hall.
Fox pointed that out, too.
Glennon’s peers rightfully voted him a team captain, but coaches also have noticed how players gravitate toward Trubisky.
“Very early on for us as coaches, I think we saw the tenacity with which he goes about it and the maturity with which he prepares,” Fox said. “And then there’s just a kind of ‘it’ factor in how you relate to people around you and how people feed off you that I think was pretty evident early, too.”
Backup quarterbacks typically don’t have that kind of pull. Then again, Trubisky is far from your typical backup. He’s the future-in-waiting.
Trubisky said his transition to the NFL has “absolutely slowed down” after playing in the preseason. He also feels that he did earn the backup job.
“I worked really hard,” Trubisky said. “I played pretty well in the preseason games, and [I] just continue to work and show that I’m prepared for this step in my career right now.”
The next step might be into the Bears’ huddle.
If that happens, the Bears trust that he’ll be ready.
They would be excited, too.
“Every time I go out there, I give it my all and I just try to make everyone better and have fun,” Trubisky said. “That’s really the important thing for me, and I think [my teammates] see that, and they respond to that. Hopefully, it carries to everyone around us and makes us better.”
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