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From hot start to curious finish, Mitch Trubisky’s preseason was elite

Mitch Trubisky’s preseason started with a completions streak and ended with a complete head-scratcher.

In between, the second overall pick gained a better sense of how to get where the Bears want him to go. His next step is to continue the process while getting fewer snaps in practice and none in games.

“I think I’m going to continue to figure that out more and more as reps get cut down,” he said Thursday night. “And what you need to do on a weekly basis to be mentally prepared — and have your body physically prepared — to be 110 percent on game days.

“I have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done on a weekly basis, as far as studying film and body preparation and all that. I’ll be ready to roll.”

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky. (AP)

Statistically, Trubisky was one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in the preseason.

Of the 29 quarterbacks who attempted at least 50 passes, only two — fellow rookies Cooper Rush and Patrick Mahomes — posted a better passer rating than Trubisky’s 106.2.

He was one of seven quarterbacks — a group that included Carson Palmer and Russell Wilson — to throw for at least three touchdowns with no interceptions.

Trubisky’s 82 percent adjusted completion rate — Pro Football Focus’ way of eliminating throwaways, drops, spikes and batted passes — ranked first in the NFL.

So it’s no surprise that Trubisky feels ready to play during the season.

“For sure,” he said. “Whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll be ready to do it. I know what I need to do.”

The Bears wanted to see how Trubisky prepared to be the starter in the days leading up to the preseason finale, which was — at least until the very end — an exercise in the rookie turning around and handing the ball off.

Trubisky said he didn’t do anything different to get himself ready.

“I think everyone thought it was going to be a huge help,” Trubisky said. “But I kind of prepared the way I always prepared, and that’s what’s helped me most, even though I’m not the starter.

“Just finding my routine, finding the rhythms, doing the pregame rituals and all that stuff to get ready for the game. It should be useful for future reference.”

But when?

Trubisky has progressed farther and faster than even the Bears anticipated.

It was clear in the first preseason game against the Broncos, in which he completed 10 consecutive passes. He handed off nine consecutive times to begin his first start Thursday, leaving after four drives. He completed just 2 of 4
passes for 10 yards against the Browns.

He returned twice to the game in the final 2:23 when backup Connor Shaw was injured. The Bears exposed Trubisky to danger when he dropped back on the game’s final two plays. He was sacked on the last one.

Coach John Fox liked the fact that Trubisky wanted to score. Still, it’s the coach’s responsibility to do what’s safest for his players, not to pass when trailing 25-0.

Fox said that “when you step between those lines, you’re exposed.”

One reason Trubisky wanted to score: He had a few dozen friends and family members from Mentor, Ohio, in the stands to watch him play his favorite childhood team.

“All the fans, including my family, I wish we could have put on a better show,” he said.

He’ll get his chance to, eventually.

“For him as an individual, I feel like he’s continuing to grow,” running back Benny Cunningham said. “I’m excited to see what he does as he continues to show his improvement, growing, understanding the game, and it slows down for him.”

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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