BEARS: Trevathan embraces Bears’ ILB tradition
BOURBONNAIS — Danny Trevathan wasn’t intimidated by the Bears’ daunting legacy of linebackers in 2016, when he was in the market for a new team after spending his first four years with the Broncos.
It was quite the opposite for the inside linebacker.
“That’s why I came here — the tradition at linebacker,” the seventh-year veteran said. “It’s not an easy job, but it’s the tough stuff that makes you grow. I’m here for a reason, and I like playing linebacker for the Chicago Bears.”
That’s why Trevathan found Brian Urlacher’s acceptance speech especially compelling Saturday night, when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Urlacher became the Bears’ most recent linebacker enshrined, after Mike Singletary, Dick Butkus, Bill George and George Connor.
“One of the things that stuck out is he said he wanted to be the best teammate,” Trevathan said. “He didn’t want to talk about himself. That just goes to show the true leader (he was), and how he loved the game of football. He played it the right way at linebacker. He changed the criteria of linebackers, made plays, and he was the glue that held them together. Just enjoying the little things, like the players you’re playing with, the plays you make together.”
Trevathan missed the first week of training camp with a hamstring injury, so Sunday’s full-contact practice in full pads was his first of the year. Having him in the lineup made a huge difference for the defense the past two years, which first-year head coach Matt Nagy already has realized.
“There’s a leadership element, which goes without saying,” Nagy said. “There’s a physicality that he brings.”
But Trevathan knows when to bring it and when not to, and Nagy was impressed Sunday on a play where Trevathan didn’t bring it.
“There was a play where he could have knocked 17 [rookie WR Anthony Miller] into the stands, and he decided not to, and that was in a live period,” Nagy said after the practice. “I’m going to point that out to the team tonight because that that wasn’t stupidity. That was a veteran being smart, not taking out one of our guys. [Trevathan] knows it’s live, but he knows he doesn’t have to prove anything, so he just plays smart. I thought, ‘That’s the growth and maturity of a team that cares about their teammates.’”
Urlacher would have been proud of Trevathan’s show of discretion had he been watching the practice instead of being feted in Canton, Ohio.
The maturity of this Bears team is especially evident on a defense whose members have talked a great deal about taking another step forward after finishing 10th in yards allowed last season. For that to happen, Trevathan needs to be on the field as much as he was in 2013 and 2015, when he started 31 games for the Broncos. He’s started 21 games in his other four seasons.
“It’s imperative that I be on that field,” Trevathan said. “I’m not going to let my team down anymore. That comes with a responsibility — just taking care of yourself. Plays happen … you get injured. But it’s only going to make the defense better when I’m out there because I’m going to push, and I’m going to work my tail off, and I’m not going to let anybody beat me.”
The Bears were 0-4 last year when Trevathan didn’t play. One of the games he missed was because of a suspension for leading with the crown of his helmet, the kind of play the NFL’s new tackling rule is geared toward eliminating or at least punishing more severely.
Thursday’s preseason opener gave players on both sides a better idea of how the new rule would be enforced, even more so than when league officials met with the team earlier in camp and explained it with visual aids. Trevathan said he already is conversant with how the rule will be enforced.
“Shoot,” he said. “I was on the film. I knew the rule was coming. I’ve got to be able to move on from it and learn the new techniques. The game is constantly changing. That’s what we get paid to do, I guess. I’ve got to take that [into account] in my play.”