Bears’ Trubisky ready to face Packers for first time
CHICAGO — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky did not take long to understand the significance of his upcoming start against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
It will mark the 196th meeting with Green Bay clinging to a 95-94-6 lead in the series.
“I’m starting to figure out it’s a pretty big deal,” said Trubisky, a rookie out of North Carolina who will make his fifth career start and first against Green Bay. “No matter who our opponent is, we’re trying to be 1-0 each week. But I know this is a big rivalry for the fans and the city of Chicago, so I’m just going to go out and give it everything I’ve got. Hopefully, we come out on the good side of it.”
That has not been the case in recent seasons for the Bears, who have dropped three games in a row, seven of eight and 13 of 15 to the Packers. But the development of Trubisky, coupled with the absence of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (broken collarbone), has brought new hope to the Windy City.
Chicago (3-5) has matched its win total from a season ago and has won two of its past three games. The Bears are 2-2 at home this season and are well-rested after a week off.
Meanwhile, Green Bay (4-4) is eager to change its narrative and reassert itself as a playoff contender. Since Rodgers went down, the Packers have lost three in a row and averaged only 14.7 points.
In place of Rodgers, Packers quarterback Brett Hundley has produced a lackluster 58.3 passer rating. He has passed for one touchdown and four interceptions.
Hundley, 24, is confident that he and his teammates on offense can improve. He leans on his own strengths instead of pressuring himself to replicate Rodgers’ style.
“When I’m out there, I’m myself,” Hundley said. “I never have and never will try to be Aaron, but I learned from Aaron. But at the end of the day, I’m still me.”
Rodgers’ injury is not the only one for Green Bay. The Packers will be without safety Morgan Burnett (groin) and veteran tackle Bryan Bulaga (torn ACL), among others, when they head south to Chicago. The team also released injured tight end Martellus Bennett this week, which means Richard Rodgers and Lance Kendricks will need to carry the load going forward at that position.
For Green Bay’s slump to end, a trio of talented wideouts will need to step up when it matters most, wide receiver Randall Cobb said. He was referring to himself, Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson.
“I think it’s big plays,” Cobb said. “We always talk about it in the receiver room. The team goes through us. When we’re able to make those big plays, it provides a spark for this team, not only offensively but throughout the entire team. … It’s on our shoulders. I’m putting it on the three of us.”
Chicago has the NFL’s eighth-ranked defense and will challenge the Packers’ hopes to rack up points. Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks leads the team with seven sacks, and Leonard Floyd has five.
Meanwhile, Green Bay is No. 23 in total offense with an average of 310.1 yards per game.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Bears rank fourth-to-last in total offense with 287.6 yards per game. Green Bay has struggled on defense, too, ranking No. 25 with 357.4 yards allowed per contest.
The Packers have scored 22.6 points per game while giving up an average of 23.9. Chicago has scored 16.8 points while giving up 21.4.
Injuries also will affect Chicago in the rivalry game. Tight end Zach Miller is out for the season after a frightening leg injury against New Orleans that required emergency surgery and a lengthy hospital stay. Linebacker Danny Trevathan also could miss the game because of a calf strain.
One player who expects to make his Bears debut is wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, who was acquired Oct. 26 from the Los Angeles Chargers. Inman notched 58 catches for 810 yards and four touchdowns last season, and he dined with Trubisky before the off week to help the pair build chemistry.
“It’s the little things,” Inman said. “(It’s about) being in the right spots, him being able to trust me and other receivers to get the job done.”
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