Matt Nagy hopeful, but Mitch Trubisky’s availability in doubt vs. Rams
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Bears coach Matt Nagy is hopeful quarterback Mitch Trubisky can return this week, with circumstances raising the stakes significantly.
After Chase Daniel’s shaky performance in an overtime loss Sunday to the Giants and the prospect of facing the 11-1 Rams on ‘‘Sunday Night Football,’’ Trubisky’s return seems more like a requirement than an elective.
Nagy gave little indication about Trubisky’s status Monday. Trubisky missed his second consecutive game with a sprained right shoulder suffered on a late hit by Harrison Smith on a five-yard run late in the fourth quarter of a game against the Vikings on Nov. 18.
Trubisky threw passes in practice for the first time Friday and also threw before the game against the Giants. His competitiveness and desire to play in a marquee game might make him more likely to play if he’s close. But Nagy wouldn’t even commit to Trubisky practicing in full this week.
‘‘I can’t say that for sure,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘I hope he is. The last several days, he’s getting better and feeling better. So I think it’s only fair . . . that we just keep seeing him throw and see how he feels and then he tells us.
‘‘If he feels — and we feel — like it’s an opportunity for him to go out there and he’s going to be good and safe and our team is good and safe with him in there, then that’s what we’ll do.’’
With Trubisky out, Daniel was efficient in a victory against the Lions on Thanksgiving, throwing two touchdown passes without a turnover, but a liability in the loss to the Giants, with two interceptions — including a pick-six on the second play from scrimmage — and four fumbles.
But even if Daniel had been competent against the Giants, the Bears likely would need Trubisky against the Rams, who are tied with the Saints for second in the NFL in scoring (34.9 points per game) and have scored 30 or more points in 10 of their 12 games.
It likely will be dicey even if Trubisky returns, however. For one thing, he would be playing for the first time in three weeks, so there’s likely to be at least a little rust.
‘‘There’s definitely going to be some of that, for sure,’’ quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone said. ‘‘But he’s had a lot of practice under his belt. We’re deep into the season. He has been off for a little bit, but I don’t expect too much of a drop-off in terms of getting him back and going.’’
And it remains to be seen how vulnerable to contact Trubisky will be. Nagy doesn’t baby his players. If Trubisky can go, he’ll approach the game as though he’s 100 percent. That could be problematic against the Rams, with
defensive tackle Aaron Donald on a rampage. The four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle is on pace for his third Defensive Player of the Year award, with 12½ sacks, 24 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles in his last six games.
Though Trubisky was injured on a running play, the Bears are adamant they won’t curtail his creativity — either on designed runs or as a scrambler. After missing two games, Trubisky has dropped from first to fifth in rushing yards among quarterbacks, but he still leads in rushing average with 7.1 yards per carry.
‘‘I think he’s made the right decisions on when to get down, when to get out of bounds and when to cut back,’’ Ragone said. “And I’ll say this: That’s a true weapon he possesses — his ability to move and run. He has a variable to this offense that makes us hard to defend. And I’m not going to coach that out of him.’’