Bears QB Mitch Trubisky: My running style won’t change, but my sliding might

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Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky slides against the Vikings during the first half. He was injured on a slide late in the fourth quarter. | David Banks/AP photo

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky doesn’t plan to change his running style when he returns.

How he finishes those runs is another question.

“I’ve been told I’ve got to work on my slides a little bit, maybe pick one or stick to one,” Trubisky said Thursday in his first comments since Nov. 18. “Throughout a play, I never know whether I’m going to slide forward, get down sideways or just go straight and give myself up early.

“That’s something that I’ve just got to continue to be better with, and it also makes it hard for the defense because they don’t know if I’m going to continue to pick up yards or I’m going to go down. That’s why defenses are continuing to be aggressive. That’s just me practicing that, being smart and taking care of myself. I’ve got to continue to work on my slides and make sure they’re cleaner.”

When Trubisky slid awkwardly, feetfirst, on a run in the fourth quarter against the Vikings, he was hit in the left shoulder by Vikings safety Harrison Smith, who was flagged and later fined for the late blow that drove Trubisky’s right shoulder into the Soldier Field turf. Trubisky threw one more pass, a third-down incompletion, and took the field for kneel-down plays as the Bears sealed the victory against Minnesota.

“It was just an awkward landing, and then I got hit, and my arm got caught underneath me the wrong way,” he said. “It was really just a freak play, and I didn’t know what happened at the time.”

The injury to his right shoulder has prevented him from throwing in the 11 days since. He did not attempt a pass in practice Wednesday, and coach Matt Nagy said the plan Thursday was similar. He was listed as a limited participant in both practices.

In the portion of practice open to the media, Trubisky did the same activities as the day before, working on his footwork and chumming it up with his teammates. That in itself has value, Nagy said, and was part of the Bears’ recovery plan for him.

“I think it’s just good, more than anything, just mentally knowing you’re out there with the guys,” he said.

Trubisky is unlikely to play Sunday against the Giants, leaving backup Chase Daniel in line to make his second consecutive start and fourth of his career.

When he does return, all eyes will be on Trubisky’s sliding skills. They’ve taken on an extra importance this year, as the NFL Competition Committee put a special emphasis on the play.

Quarterbacks who give themselves up receive protection from tacklers regardless of whether they slide feetfirst or headfirst. The ball, however, is spotted where the first body part touches the ground. In previous years, sliding quarterbacks continued to get yardage until they were touched down by a defender. So quarterbacks have a motivation to eke out every last yard before sliding.

If a defender has committed to the tackle before the slide begins, they’re allowed to make contact with the quarterback — as long as the hit isn’t late or to the head or neck.

“It makes sense,” third-string quarterback Tyler Bray said. “Because the defense is arguing, ‘Why can’t we hit them if they’re gonna get the yards?’ ”

A baseball slide is considered more natural for most quarterbacks. A headfirst slide might help gain extra inches — valuable on third downs — and protects quarterbacks from being hit under the chin if a defensive player makes contact.

No slide is completely safe, as Trubisky proved. But he said the injury won’t stop him from being an aggressive runner when he returns.

“I would say I’ve done a real good job of getting yardage for this team, creating positive plays and causing trouble for the defenses while also protecting myself,” he said. “Nothing’s going to change when I get back. I’m going to continue to stay aggressive and play ball the way I know how.”

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