Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky handed the ball off three times to Mike Davis in the preseason loss to the Panthers on Thursday, then spent the rest of the evening on the sideline.
It was a predictably limited performance knowing Bears coach Matt Nagy's priority in preseason games is keeping his starters healthy. Afterward, Nagy was asked if he was comfortable with Trubisky's next pass coming in a regular-season game.
"It's not up to me, and I definitely believe in the big picture and whatever Coach believes in," Trubisky said Tuesday. "Whether he wants me to go out there and do a couple handoffs and come out, I support that, or whether he wants me to go out there and throw 50 times in a preseason – that's not going to happen – but I'd support that as well. It's all about staying healthy and getting ready for the real thing. And it's also getting these other guys a lot of reps and just supporting Chase (Daniel) and Tyler (Bray), being in the game mentally and doing whatever (Nagy) asks us to do."
Two factors should help Trubisky's comfort level if he plays minimally in the preseason.
Trubisky played just 40 snaps in the preseason last year. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 94 yards, an interception and a touchdown. Thirty of those snaps came in the Bears' third of five preseason games, which aligns with Friday's game, the Bears' second of four games.
He said Tuesday that he trusted that process in 2018, and he felt it worked out. So he won't doubt it now.
Trubisky also thinks practicing against a top-shelf defense daily is preparing him for the season.
On Tuesday, second-year defensive lineman Bilal Nichols made a diving interception of a Trubisky pass. Nichols is far from the only teammate to push Trubisky over the last two weeks. Cornerback Prince Amukamara had at least one interception in three straight public practices in Bourbonnais.
"We're definitely getting challenged enough," Trubisky said. "That's not even a question, just going against our defense every day."
Of course, when Trubisky isn't playing an opposing team in a game, it can be difficult for outsiders to gauge the quarterback's progress as he enters his third season.
The Bears want Trubisky to test which throws he can make in practice – sometimes leading to the picks – but does that mean he won't make those mistakes in a game setting? When the Bears defense makes a big play, was it because that unit is operating particularly well or because Trubisky is struggling?
"We realize that, look, you're going against an experienced secondary, a front seven that provides and represents challenges, and they're playing with confidence and aggressiveness," quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone said. "So we look at that as, hey, let's match that. And if we don't match it, why didn't we match it? Each play is a chess match for us.
"This is when you want to be tested at quarterback. You want to go through it in training camp. You want to go through it if you get your chance in preseason. Because once the regular season hits, you're into scout-team looks and all that. You want your best versus best."
As the Bears moved back into Halas Hall from Bourbonnais this week, Nagy and Trubisky met in the early-morning hours Tuesday to recap their impressions of training camp and the next steps in the offense's preparation for the opener.
Despite Trubisky's occasional hiccups in camp, both left the meeting with positive vibes about where the offense is headed in its second season under Nagy.
"We threw a lot at myself and the offense throughout training camp," Trubisky said. "Whether it's adding more new stuff or pulling back a little bit and keeping it simple – allowing the offense to play fast, allowing me to play fast – he just wants me to go out there and be the point guard. Distribute the ball to our playmakers. That's really all I've got to do within this offense. Just stay on top of everything. Continue to master it, go through it, know what I've got to do within my job and get the ball to the playmakers."
Nagy said he is "cautiously optimistic" about where the offense is and thinks he and Trubisky are on the same page.
"Let me tell you something: We're in a phenomenal spot right now," Nagy said. "I love where we're at. Not one thing has changed with our offense in general. I feel really good. It's fun testing it out."