Snap judgment: Bears redshirt Mitch Trubisky a long way from starting
BOURBONNAIS — One snap fell to the ground, then another on the next play.
Rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky finally handled a snap Saturday, turned and handed the ball off. He was greeted by a patronizing round of applause from the Bears fans who had flocked to Olivet Nazarene University for the team’s first padded practice of training camp.
Three plays later, Trubisky fumbled another snap.
‘‘I think I just lost focus there for a period of time,’’ said Trubisky, who was rarely under center last year in North Carolina’s shotgun-heavy offense. ‘‘And then I was starting to overthink it and then couldn’t get it.’’
Trubisky’s first full-bore NFL practice was another reminder that despite his impressive footwork and pretty spirals — a deep ball to Titus Davis was the best pass anyone threw all day — he’s not close to being the Bears’ starter.
That’s no surprise to the Bears, who have made it clear that Mike Glennon is the starter this season and that Mark Sanchez is his backup. Entering camp, general manager Ryan Pace tempered public expectations for Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick, hoping to develop him outside the glare of a fan base thirsty for the Bears’ first superstar quarterback since Sid Luckman retired in 1950.
Part of Trubisky’s adjustment this season will be finding the balance between his competitiveness and accepting his rookie role.
‘‘I have to respect the plan that they have in place, and I have to believe in that,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘So that’s what I’m doing.’’
He feels more comfortable than he did in organized team activities, saying he can envision every play in his mind’s eye. At North Carolina, where he started only 13 games, Trubisky called out his pass protection after looking for instructions from the sideline. The Bears, who use different terminology than the Tar Heels, demand that Trubisky identify the middle linebacker and make protection calls on his own.
Asked for the biggest key in throwing a deep pass, Trubisky smiled and gave the old Carnegie Hall line: ‘‘Practice, practice, practice.’’ At training sessions this month in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he learned exactly where his receivers like the ball against certain defenses.
‘‘I’m trying to do what I’m coached to do, but sometimes I luck into throws just based on where my eyes are or based on natural ability,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘But I really need to keep studying, stay within the offense and just go take the ball where the defense dictates.’’
Coach John Fox said the snap issues were as much the fault of the centers, who faced a violent pass rush for the first time in camp, but he was clear Trubisky is a work in progress.
‘‘He’s learning a whole new offense,’’ Fox said. ‘‘We see a little bit more extensive types of coverages, so I think the guy’s done everything he can. He’s improving every day.’’
Sanchez’s description of Trubisky’s watch-and-learn role is fittingly collegiate.
‘‘Carson Palmer redshirted [in the NFL],’’ Sanchez said. ‘‘There’s a million guys who watched somebody else play and then got to play themselves at some point. Some guys got thrown in right away: Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, me, Matt Stafford.
‘‘There are two arguments and two paths you can go. Is one better than the other? I don’t know. Six one way, half-dozen the other. Who knows?’’
Trubisky redshirted in 2013 to preserve a year of college eligibility. What he learned at age 19 holds true this year.
‘‘You’ve got to prepare like you’re the starter,’’ he said. ‘‘Don’t take any days off and just keep getting better in the meantime. . . . Because when you’re called upon, you’ve got to be ready to rock and roll.’’
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