BOURBONNAIS — It’s almost as if Danny Trevathan is trying to will himself back from the torn patellar tendon he suffered in November. That injury has been a career-ender for many football players before him. But he had no doubt he’d be back.
“Not at all, not at all; I’m looking to be even better,” Trevathan said after surprisingly participating in the Bears’ first training-camp practice Thursday eight months after suffering the injury against the Titans in Week 12.
“I didn’t do as well as I thought I would last year. [We had a] new scheme. I can make a lot of excuses, but that’s not the type of person I am. I’m here to make this team better. They brought me here to help win some championships.”
Trevathan is participating on a limited basis. But just that he was back on the field was a positive first step.
“I feel like I’m right where I need to be, even a little bit more,” Trevathan said. “The plan is to keep easing me into things and keep trying to push toward greatness.”
That would be quite an accomplishment considering the devastating nature of his injury. Even those who recover from it struggle to regain peak form.
New teammate Victor Cruz was a Pro Bowl wide receiver when he suffered a torn patellar tendon in 2014 and hasn’t been the same player since. He suffered a calf injury he believes was a result of overcompensating for the injured leg.
Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham was productive in his return from the injury last season but, like Cruz, does not have the explosiveness that made him special.
Trevathan knows the power of positive thinking. He recovered from a dislocated kneecap in 2014 to start 18 games for the Super Bowl champion Broncos in 2015.
“This is not my first rodeo,” Trevathan said. “The great ones come back from injuries, and there’s nothing to them. Me being out here [at practice] was a step toward that . . . helping my team be better and win some more games.”
Though he was a complementary player on the great Broncos defense that won the Super Bowl, Trevathan is a strong personality with leadership qualities. He was voted a captain last season before he had even played a regular-season game for the Bears.
“Danny’s an extreme competitor; he’s a consummate pro,” guard Kyle Long said. “The guy works his butt off. I show up to the training room, he’s already been in there. And when I’m done with my stuff, he’s still on the table, and I’m like, ‘What else can I do to match his commitment and preparation?’ I think you’ll see great strides out of Danny this year.”
Asked if there’s anything he can’t do, Trevathan said, “I can’t play quarterback.” But at linebacker, “There’s nothing I can’t do right now. It’s just about being smart and getting to the regular season.”
And if he makes it all the way back, he’s looking forward to teaming with Jerrell Freeman to give the Bears the inside-linebacker combo they were looking for in 2016.
“We can be the best tandem in the league — there’s no doubt in my mind,” Trevathan said. “After working with him for a year, I know the type of player he is. I know what he’s thinking before he even thinks it. He knows what I’m thinking before I even think it.
“As long as we’re all on assignment, we’re going to play good, play fast. We’re going to be the best [inside-linebacker] tandem in the league.”
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.