|National Football League|
Bears' Trubisky to make debut versus Vikings on MNF
Strong-armed quarterback Mitchell Trubisky commanded the attention of dozens of NFL scouts as he shattered school records at North Carolina a season ago.
On Monday night, Trubisky will have an opportunity to showcase his abilities in front of millions of viewers. The No. 2 overall pick will make his debut in prime time as the Chicago Bears (1-3) square off against the Minnesota Vikings (2-2).
The 23-year-old Ohio native supplants Mike Glennon as the starter only five weeks into his career.
"I feel like I'm ready," Trubisky said to reporters this week. "I'm excited. I'm just going to take it day by day and prepare as hard as I possibly can for every single look and situation we can get on Monday. I'm going to be dependent on my teammates a lot. My job is to get the ball to the playmakers and just be a distributor and manage the offense and do the best I can."
The Vikings offer a difficult challenge to any quarterback, let alone an untested rookie. Minnesota ranks No. 1 in the league in third-down defense (25.6 percent conversion rate) and tied for eighth in scoring defense (19 points per game).
Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen paces the team with five sacks in the first four games. Safety Andrew Sendejo also has emerged as a leader with 32 tackles and an interception.
Bears coach John Fox said the team's 11-day break between games allowed time to make the switch from Glennon to Trubisky. Look for Fox to try to ease Trubisky's workload by simplifying the playbook and relying heavily on running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
"I thought he had an outstanding camp," Fox said when asked to evaluate Trubisky's growth. "He got to play through four preseason games. Got to watch him in practice and preparation for the first four regular-season games. I thought he made great strides, even through camp, being new to our offense. I felt like he was ready for the next step."
As the Bears try to rejuvenate their offense, the Vikings will have to rebound from a tough loss. Minnesota will play its first game since losing rookie running back Dalvin Cook to a torn left ACL that will cost him the remainder of the season. Cook rushed for 354 yards in three-plus contests.
In Cook's place, running back Latavius Murray will inherit the bulk of the workload. Murray is coming off ankle surgery during the offseason that still has him feeling less than 100 percent.
"To be honest, I think I'm still getting to that point," said Murray, 27, who spent the previous three seasons with the Oakland Raiders. "It's not going to quite feel the same for awhile. I knew that dealing with my previous ankle procedure.
"For me, it's being well enough to be out there and being able to help the team be successful. ... I feel good enough to be out there, and I'm confident in myself that I can play at a high level."
The Vikings have been without quarterback Sam Bradford for the past three games because of a knee injury. If he remains out, look for Case Keenum to guide the offense once again.
One bright spot for Minnesota is the return of wide receiver Michael Floyd, who will be reinstated from a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Floyd joins a talented group of wideouts that includes Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
"I'll be ready," Floyd, 27, said to the Minneapolis Star Tribune after a recent practice. "I'm in shape. I feel great. I'm ready to start."
Chicago's defense has offered reason for hope in an otherwise ugly start to the season. The Bears are No. 8 in the NFL in total defense with 306.3 yards allowed per game.
However, that defense will be short-handed as linebacker Danny Trevathan serves a one-game suspension for his hit on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams in Week 4. Trevathan initially was suspended two games for the helmet-to-helmet hit before the league cut the penalty.
Both teams have three takeaways this season. The Bears have 10 giveaways -- tied for most in the NFL with Cleveland -- compared with four by the Vikings.
This marks the 113th meeting with the Vikings leading the series 58-52-2. The Bears have won eight of the last nine meetings at Soldier Field.
Updated October 4, 2017