The Bears were were confident all preseason that tight end Trey Burton would be ready to roll by the opener, and that might have been the case if he hadn’t strained a groin muscle last week.
Burton tested it out in pregame warm-ups but was unable to run full speed, so the Bears made him inactive against the Packers.
“It was close, but we felt like it wasn’t the right time,” coach Matt Nagy said after the game.
Nagy said he hoped Burton would play in 10 days in Denver but didn’t want to commit either way.
It was surely an exasperating night for Burton, who worked back from sports-hernia surgery and thought he was in good shape when the Bears opened training camp in late July. Before the new injury, which the Bears insist is unrelated to his sports hernia, general manager Ryan Pace said Burton was “in a good place” as far as playing in the opener.
The Bears did not have a tight end on the field to open the game, instead using three running backs in their traditional T formation. Adam Shaheen (five catches last season) and Ben Braunecker (three) are next in line at the position.
Burton missed the Bears’ playoff game against the Eagles in January with the sports hernia but did not have surgery until spring. That ruined his offseason training, and he struggled to get his conditioning back when he arrived in Bourbonnais. He practiced five straight days but didn’t look right, and the Bears decided to put him on an individual program.
Once he returns, Nagy said the team already has discussed limiting his practice time to preserve his health.
Amos for the win
Safety Adrian Amos told his teammates before the game that he wanted to get an interception against his former team.
At the game’s most critical moment, that’s exactly what he did, picking off Mitch Trubisky’s ill-advised third-down pass to Allen Robinson in the end zone. The Bears, who trailed by seven with two minutes to play, were at the Packers’ 16-yard line.
“It felt great to win that game, come here, hold them to three points and make a big play to help my team win,” he said. “That’s a big first win to start off the season, start the season off 1-0 and then we have to improve from here.”
The Packers gave Amos a four-year, $36 million contract to sign him away from the Bears in March. The Bears replaced him with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the former Packers safety, on a one-year deal. Amos wouldn’t say the pick had special meaning, but he knew it was important.
“That was my plan coming in,” he said. “I wanted to make a big play to help us win.”
Shortly before kickoff, the Bears brought their 1985 championship team out of the tunnel, led by Jay Hilgenberg, Jim McMahon and Richard Dent.
They also had Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael, Gary Fencik, Otis Wilson, Matt Suhey, Brian Baschnagel, Kurt Becker, Jimbo Covert, Mike Hartenstine, Dennis McKinnon, Jim Morrissey and Tom Thayer on hand.
The Bears are celebrating a different decade each game this season and opened with their most memorable era. They installed a giant Mike Ditka bobblehead at Millennium Park this week and gave out regular-sized ones to the first 20,000 fans at the game.