Bears defensive end Robert Quinn ready to flip the switch
The All-Pro defensive end is in a “ramp-up” phase after sitting out the offseason program. But it won’t take him long to get back in the swing of things. “I kind of think I’m pretty much caught up,” he said.
After missing most of the Bears’ offseason program, defensive end Robert Quinn officially is in the ‘‘ramp-up’’ phase, where he gradually gets reacclimated to football and gets a full introduction to the defense under coach Matt Eberflus and coordinator Alan Williams.
But given that he’s a 12-year veteran with gifted pass-rush moves, it’s not a complicated process. You basically turn him on and let him go. Quinn is easing into the 11-on-11 ‘‘team’’ portion of training camp, but he’s not making up for everything he lost while sitting out the offseason. He’s Robert Quinn.
‘‘It didn’t really matter. I kind of think I’m pretty much caught up,’’ Quinn said after the Bears’ first day in full pads Tuesday at Halas Hall. ‘‘When they call a play, I know what I’m supposed to do and kind of anticipate the checks and stuff like that.
‘‘So you study the playbook when you’re in [the facility], and when you’re out there it just makes everything click even better. It’s kind of just how I work things. It’s football. They give a call, and I try to make it as simple as possible and not overcomplicate the game.’’
It remains to be seen whether Quinn still will be with the Bears when the regular season begins Sept. 11 against the 49ers at Soldier Field. At 32, he’s an odd fit for a team rebuilding with mostly youth.
Trevis Gipson, 25, is primed for a breakout season after getting seven sacks in Sean Desai’s defense last season. Al-Quadin Muhammad, 27, who signed with the Bears in free agency, blossomed in Eberflus’ defense with the Colts and also had seven sacks last season.
And Eberflus has said fifth-round rookie defensive end Dominique Robinson, who was getting first-team snaps when Quinn was not participating in team drills, will get a chance to prove he deserves playing time, based on his initial impact in non-padded practices.
The Bears will have options, and it might get dicey for Quinn if 2022 becomes a true rebuilding year as the season goes on and a player such as Robinson could benefit from regular-season snaps.
But while the Bears might be better off without Quinn, they are in good shape with him — on multiple levels. Quinn has been a consummate professional in his two-plus seasons with them. He’s a good player to have on your team.
‘‘Just a beautiful man,’’ Williams said. ‘‘Cares about his teammates. As a player . . . he is as advertised. You see him go through individual [drills], boy, is he bendy. He can get on an edge.’’
Quinn is a low-key, often laconic personality off the field, but everything about him is impressive to those who coach him.
‘‘We were talking the other day, and I was staring at his hands,’’ Williams said. ‘‘He’s a big man. And he’s a professional. He studies the playbook. He comes in prepared. And, as a leader, guys gravitate toward him.
‘‘He’s quiet by nature, but the guys look up to him to lead the way. He hasn’t been out there a whole bunch, but when he’s been out there, boy, do they follow.’’
Quinn said he is ‘‘kind of like back at home’’ in Eberflus’ 4-3 defense. And he’s just in a good place overall, ready for whatever comes next.
‘‘Every day I wake up is a bright spot,’’ Quinn said. ‘‘We’ve got a new coaching staff, new players. I try to get myself in the best shape in the offseason and in a good mental space. And coming in to show the guys that I’ve still got a little bit left in the tank.’’