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Fate adds injury to insult for Mitch Trubisky

Bears coach Matt Nagy was grooming Trubisky for a wildcat quarterback role when he inserted him for one play against the Saints on Sunday. But the former starter suffered an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder on his first play — a three-yard rush — and could be out awhile.

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky was 2-0 as a starter this season before being benched in the third quarter against the Falcons on Sept. 27 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky was 2-0 as a starter this season before being benched in the third quarter against the Falcons on Sept. 27 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Andy Clayton-King/AP

Bears coach Matt Nagy was just trying to throw the Saints a curve and give the Titans something to think about when he inserted Mitch Trubisky at quarterback on a wildcat play in the first quarter Sunday.

And somehow, it blew up on him.

Not only did Trubisky get a modest three-yard gain on a first-and-10 option run, but he suffered a shoulder injury on the play and could be out awhile. The Bears have arranged workouts for fringe quarterbacks Kyle Sloter and Jake Rudock, and Nagy didn’t dismiss a question about Tyler Bray being the backup quarterback Sunday against the Titans, which likely means Trubisky’s return isn’t imminent.

“He just got dinged up on that one play,” Nagy said. “So he’s rehabbing things and working on it that way. It’s unfortunate, and I know he’s bummed out. But he kind of landed on it weird and that’s where we’re at.

“At first he didn’t really know [he was injured]. It was just something that ended up kind of lingering and hurting as the night went on.”

Nagy did not address the severity of the injury or how long Trubisky will be out, though NFL Network reported the Bears are concerned about structural damage. With it being Trubisky’s throwing shoulder that he previously injured in 2018, it’s possible that wildcat rush could be the last we’ve seen of Trubisky with the Bears.

It would be tough to see it end that way. But, barring a storybook return, the Trubisky era was headed in that direction since he was benched in the third quarter against the Falcons. The latest unfortunate episode just added injury to insult.

“It’s unfortunate when any player gets hurt, let alone him, when he’s had a couple years of shoulder injuries,” Nagy said. “So that part for him is upsetting and frustrating — [though] disappointing is probably a better word.”

From the moment he was benched, Trubisky handled the demotion with class. He even did a postgame news conference after the Falcons game after Foles became the hero with three fourth-quarter touchdown passes. That couldn’t have been easy.

“Mitch has been really, really good throughout the whole process,” Nagy said. “I couldn’t have asked for him to be any better. He’s handled it like an absolute pro — and it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

“At the position we are in, we also know that using him in different areas and growing with a package with him can be good. And I think that was a start for us [against the Saints]. It’s just unfortunate what happened on that play. But we’re trying to do everything for him and for us as a team to use all our weapons as much as we can.”

With Foles struggling to get in a groove, calls for a return to Trubisky were getting louder. And with Foles’ injury history (three times as a starter, in 2012, 2014 and 2019), Trubisky was a valuable insurance policy.

He still might be, if he recovers quickly. But for now, that figures to be Bray, who has thrown one pass in eight NFL seasons with the Chiefs (2013-17) and Bears (2018-20).

Asked if Bray is ready, Nagy replied, “I hope so, because he’s only been with me eight years.”

Bray never has been considered seriously since he signed with the Bears. But he knows Nagy’s system. He and Foles were scout-team quarterbacks with the Chiefs in 2016 behind Alex Smith. A year later, Foles was the Super Bowl MVP.

“If Tyler ends up being the backup, he’s one play away — just like that,” Nagy said. “He’s worked hard to get to this point. He’s been extremely focused. And you never know.”