Built to be back: Why the Bears are a proud bunch with seven Pro Bowl players

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All seven of the Bears’ Pro Bowl players get together after practice. | Adam L. Jahns/Chicago Sun-Times

ORLANDO, Fla. — The minute Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky spent throwing passes at moving targets during the precision-passing competition of the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown resulted in a couple of personal conclusions.

First, he wants one in his backyard.

‘‘You just turn it on and throw at the targets anytime you want and have someone retrieve the balls,’’ he said. ‘‘It would be a lot easier than having a roller coaster or something.’’

Second, the moving five-point target is a ripoff.

‘‘I thought I was going to hit that ‘five,’ for sure,’’ Trubisky said Thursday after taking part in the competition a day earlier. ‘‘You think you throw a perfect ball, and the thing drops on you.’’

Trubisky unleashed a five-throw barrage at the five-point target, the most difficult option that hovers over the field on wires. He hit the target twice on back-to-back throws, but it didn’t break. On his fourth attempt, the target dropped to avoid his throw.

‘‘Everyone is like, ‘You got ripped off,’ ’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘It’s something that happens.’’

Trubisky’s aggressive approach was a highlight of the competition because the Bears, who have a league-best seven players in the Pro Bowl, appear to be a star attraction this week.

‘‘You hear [other players], and they’re like, ‘Damn, how many of you are here?’ ’’ cornerback Kyle Fuller said.

In other words, the Bears are back.

‘‘You look around the room, and we’re the largest group by a few guys,’’ center Cody Whitehair said. ‘‘It’s quite an honor to our city, our fans, the whole Bears organization, the whole Bears team that we’re in this situation.’’


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The Bears are their own team within a larger team. Fuller, Whitehair and left tackle Charles Leno Jr. walked into their first practice Wednesday together. They soon were followed by the combo of Trubisky and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks.

On Thursday, all seven of the Bears at the Pro Bowl — a group that also includes running back Tarik Cohen and safety Eddie Jackson — took a photo in the middle of the field after practice.

‘‘I still feel like we’re missing people,’’ Cohen said. ‘‘[But] it is a sense of pride. You can look over and always see one of your teammates on the field.’’

All seven rather would be playing in the Super Bowl. Trubisky and Cohen made that clear again Thursday. But all also are signed through next season or longer.

‘‘To see what we’ve built now, there has to be a reward feeling in people’s hearts and minds to know that we actually built this,’’ Hicks said.

There is a foundation to build on. The Bears are a young team with star power, and they just went 12-4 in their first season under coach Matt Nagy.

Other players also should represent the Bears in future Pro Bowls. Linebacker Roquan Smith was an alternate after leading the team in tackles as a rookie.

Trubisky’s personal improvement and growing connection with Allen Robinson also might turn into postseason accolades for Robinson. Trubisky missed him during the best hands competition, but he still was excited that his NFC team defeated the AFC.

‘‘Obviously, you wish you could have done a little better,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘I was giving [Buccaneers receiver] Mike Evans a little hard time on the over-the-top [throws]. I was hitting the window a couple of times, so we should have been practicing more before.’’

That was Trubisky’s third conclusion from the Pro Bowl’s practice week: Instead of standing around and watching, he should practice.

‘‘Hey, first Pro Bowl, live and learn,’’ he said. ‘‘Next year I’ll be practicing those drills a lot [and] coming out hot, hopefully.’’

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