Before Bears linebacker Alec Ogletree’s wife returned to the Chicago area last weekend with a bag full of his clothes from back home, he was living out of a suitcase he had brought a month ago for what he thought would be a short family vacation. He didn’t have cleats or workout clothes; he didn’t know he would need them.
Ogletree, his wife and their 5-year-old son flew to the Chicago area in early August to visit Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn, his friend dating to their time together with the Rams, and his wife, who was celebrating a birthday. They were staying at the Quinns’ house near Halas Hall when the phone rang. His agent asked where Ogletree was, and he said the Chicago area.
‘‘Don’t leave,’’ his agent said.
Ogletree’s wife eventually went back to Atlanta to enroll their son in kindergarten. He, however, hasn’t been home since.
Ogletree remains at the Quinns’ house and has spent most of the last month wearing Bears-issued sweats, shirts and shorts — though he did go to the store to buy some underwear.
Now he officially can send for his things.
Less than a month after he signed with the Bears on Aug. 4, Ogletree was named a starter when the Bears put linebacker Danny Trevathan on injured reserve with a sore knee Wednesday. That the Bears had the luxury of sitting Trevathan speaks to the impression made by Ogletree, who has started 94 career games but only one last season with the Jets. In his other game with the Jets, Ogletree came off the bench for the first time in his eight-year career.
Ogletree was willing to be a Bears backup after starting camp as a free agent, but he won’t have to worry about that for at least another few weeks. Trevathan has to miss at least the first three games of the season while on IR. If Ogletree plays well in his absence, it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll remain the starter — or at least the choice on passing downs — even when Trevathan returns.
Trevathan, however, is beloved in the Bears’ locker room.
‘‘He’s the leader of the team,’’ safety Tashaun Gipson said. ‘‘A lot of guys look up to him. Obviously, he’s a productive player. He’s been doing this a very long time. So that’s always hard to lose a guy like that.’’
Having a veteran such as Ogletree take his place, however, is ‘‘just the most perfect setup you can ask for as a coach,’’ Gipson said.
After signing a one-year deal because of injuries to the Bears’ inside linebacker corps, Ogletree intercepted six passes in his first four practices last month.
‘‘Tree’s been a guy who’s been very instinctual, a good player, always around the ball,’’ inside linebackers coach Bill McGovern, who coached him with the Giants, said earlier in camp. ‘‘He’s come back in great shape. He’s working hard, and he’s had a good showing out there.’’
Special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor even gave Ogletree a nickname after the first week: ‘‘The Microwave.’’
He never cooled off.
‘‘He took advantage of a great opportunity,’’ Bears coach Matt Nagy said Thursday.
But Ogletree looks at it a different way. He referred to ‘‘The Richest Man in Babylon,’’ a book about financial advice written in 1926. Luck, Ogletree said, is where preparation meets opportunity.
‘‘You’re not always going to have the right opportunity to do something, even though you think you should,’’ Ogletree said. ‘‘But when you do have the opportunity, it’s what you do with that opportunity while you’re there.’’