The day before veteran receiver Victor Cruz signed his Bears contract, he got a call from his soon-to-be new quarterback, Mike Glennon.
“He wanted to have dinner and talk a little bit,” Cruz said.
It was a small gesture but a big sign nonetheless. For all the flak Glennon has received for repeatedly calling this season “my year,” he’s undoubtedly operating as if the Bears are his team, and doing everything you’d want your starting quarterback to do.
He organized workouts and throwing sessions with teammates at Deerfield High School before the offseason program began. He treated teammates to a Bulls game.
The Bears’ selection of quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 pick in the draft certainly changed the overall dynamics at Halas Hall. Trubisky is the future, while 2017 has turned into a full-blown prove-it year for Glennon.
But Trubisky’s arrival hasn’t deterred Glennon’s efforts to get to know his teammates personally. (Photos on Instagram show that Glennon’s family has connected with receiver Kevin White and his girlfriend.)
And with Trubisky present, Glennon remains a prominent voice during workouts and in practices.
“He’s been pushing everybody,” running back Jordan Howard said. “When he sees people are down or dropping pads, he comes up to them and tells them, ‘Next play’ or, ‘Keep your head up’ and things like that. Even in our workouts, he’s just telling us to keep pushing and [making sure] everyone works hard.”
Comparisons have been made between the Bears’ situation at quarterback and what transpired last year with the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz. Long story short, Wentz went from the No. 2 pick to third string to the Eagles’ Week 1 starter over a span of several weeks. Bradford, who had signed a lucrative two-year deal with the Eagles, was traded to the Minnesota Vikings.
But there are important differences in the two situations — beyond Wentz benefitting from playing in a pro-style system at North Dakota, whereas Trubisky is coming from a shotgun-centric offense at North Carolina. For starters, Bradford skipped two weeks of organized team activities after Wentz was drafted. Whereas Glennon was merely surprised by Trubisky’s selection, Bradford was irate about Wentz’s arrival. Bradford’s agent, Tom Condon, went on the record saying that Bradford didn’t view himself as a “stopgap-kind of quarterback.” A trade was demanded.
According to a Philadelphia Inquirer story detailing Wentz’s emergence, he was initially deferential to Bradford. But over time, teammates and coaches gravitated toward him. He was a natural leader, oozing confidence. Trubisky certainly could be that, too — and the Bears believe he will be in time.
But Glennon and Bradford are nothing alike. Bradford, the Rams’ first overall pick in 2010, is reserved and — according to teammates — quiet. Glennon not only didn’t skip OTAs or other voluntary parts of the offseason program, he took them over and used them to form relationships. He, Wentz and Trubisky all are a coveted type of QB: outgoing and capable of rallying the troops.
“I be myself,” Glennon said. “Everyone’s got their own kind of way to go about things. I have mine, and I think guys respond well to it.”
Early indications are that they do. And once training camp begins, Glennon’s team-first efforts will only intensify. There’s no guarantee that will translate to victories for the Bears, but his approach could improve their chances.
“We’re really excited to have him,” center Cody Whitehair said.
Said Cruz: “He has a command of the offense. He understands the offense, even in a short period of time, and you can see he’s getting more and more comfortable as these practices go on. That’s all you can ask for.”
Victor Cruz misheard a question when he met Chicago reporters for the first time, but the answer was interesting. Asked which of the three receivers spots — that would be the X, Z and slot for the football guys — he prefers, Cruz named three Bears receivers who he said “stuck out” to him early on during OTAs.
In order, they were:
1. Cam Meredith: “He’s very fluid, and he’s a big target, and he can go up and get the ball and runs really good routes.”
2. Markus Wheaton: “You can see his speed. I know he’s a little bit limited. He had a yellow jersey on [Tuesday], but you can see what he kind of brings to the table.”
3. Josh Bellamy: “He talks a lot, man. I got here [and] I’m like, ‘He’s one of those talkers.’ I like that, though.”
Kevin White was an interesting omission. If asked again, Cruz, the new elder statesmen of the receivers, might list him. They’ll have plenty of time to impress each other. But with White under the microscope in his third season after missing most of his first two with serious injuries, it’s apparent the first-round pick from 2015 has work to do.
Speaking of White
During White’s recent meeting with reporters, he bristled at the suggestion that outside criticism could motivate him. But more interesting was his revelation that he had to re-learn how to run after his second major surgery on his lower left leg. He changed his gait.
“You could say that,” he said. “I’ve just got to train the body again. Fixing things, correcting things and just getting back to it. Overall, I’m not worried about it. Everything takes time, but I feel pretty good.”
Come and get it
It’s early, but cornerback Marcus Cooper’s physical play during OTAs suggests he has the brash mentality the Bears want defensively. If that holds true, he’ll fit in well with general manager Ryan Pace’s previous free-agent signings, namely linebackers Pernell McPhee, Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.
Cooper hasn’t changed much since defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and secondary coach Ed Donatell first coached him as a rookie in San Francisco.
“He was just very serious,” Donatell said.
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