After ‘throwing the ball strong,’ Bears QB Mitch Trubisky on track to start

Mitch Trubisky’s right shoulder felt good when he woke up Thursday morning after his first full practice in almost three weeks. Later in the day, the Bears quarterback again was a full participant, lining him up to start Sunday’s marquee game against the Rams.

The next step: regaining a chemistry with his receivers that seemed lost, at times, in the two games that backup Chase Daniel started.

Bears coach Matt Nagy compared Daniel to a substitute teacher.

“I think it’s a transition for our own players on offense,” Nagy said Thursday. “All of a sudden you have a new teacher, right? A substitute teacher comes in and it’s a different voice and you’re trying to figure out, ‘Do I like this teacher or not?’”

Nagy should know. After his first year in the Arena Football League, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a pickup game. He spent the season as a substitute teacher. He loved seventh and eighth grade students. Teaching kindergarten, though, was another story.

“They don’t listen,” he said with a smile. “I’m weird about eye contact and ‘listen to me,’ and make sure that we’re connecting, and I got none of that. I normally don’t get frizzled. But I was frizzled that day when I left. I was beat. They beat me up. …

“I’ll never forget the day I went home and told my wife, ‘I’ll never be a kindergarten teacher, never.’”

Nagy has to worry about bigger — much bigger — humans in his current job. Chief among them is his quarterback, who hurt his throwing shoulder Nov. 18 on a late hit by Vikings quarterback Harrison Smith.

After missing the first two starts of his career due to injury, Trubisky is spending this week trying to catch up.

“The little things,” Nagy said. “Everyone’s so focused on the physical side but there’s a lot of other parts of it too — the intangibles of being a leader in the huddle, what you’re like in the classroom. He’s been good with all of that.”

Speaking before Thursday’s practice, Nagy said Trubisky “was throwing the ball strong” the previous day, checking the boxes the coach hoped he would. Nagy said his game plan won’t be limited at all once Trubisky returns.

For it to work best, though, Trubisky must get back into rhythm with his receivers.

“He was developing that and building that, and he stepped away for a few weeks,” Nagy said. “And now [Wednesday], being back in the huddle, it’s like riding a bike. You just get right back on to it.

“So it’ll be interesting to see, as he continues to feel good, how that works with the players.”

There’s a distinct challenge to that this week. By nature, Trubisky wants all the extra snaps he can get, both during and after practice. Coming off a shoulder problem, though, the Bears need to monitor how many throws he makes.

“He’s a guy that will overdo it,” offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “Mitch is definitely a guy you have to pull the reigns back on, which is a great problem.”

The key is striking a balance.

“You want to make sure he’s getting enough to where it’s comfortable,” Nagy said, “but not to where he’s doing too much that it becomes a hindrance.”

After two weeks without their starting quarterback, though, that’s a good problem to have.

“Let’s put together another 100 percent participation day and make sure that he’s feeling good,” Nagy said. “And if he does, it’s go time.”

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