BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — It’s not a coincidence that the Bears felt one of their best defensive games of 2016 happened with inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman playing in sync. 

Last Halloween, the Bears limited the Minnesota Vikings to 258 yards and 15 first downs, both the team’s second-lowest totals during the season, in a 20-10 win on Monday night. Only one of those 15 first downs came on the ground, and Minnesota didn’t score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter. 

“We clicked pretty much on all cylinders against Minnesota,” coach John Fox said. “… (Trevathan and Freeman) were in tandem there and they were both healthy and on top of their stuff. So I think that’s what we’re capable of if we get everybody on our defense healthy.”

That game, like a lot of things with the 2016 Bears, was a fleeting bit of success enveloped by a 3-13 record. It took eight weeks for the Bears’ two prize inside linebacker free agent signings to find a rhythm together, and a few weeks later, Freeman was suspended for PEDs and Trevathan suffered a season-ending torn patellar tendon. 

Trevathan is, if the first five practices of training camp are any indication, ahead of schedule in his recovery from that serious injury. The Bears will continue to ease him back into things in Bourbonnais, but that he wasn’t placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list before training camp is a good indication the team thinks he could be ready for Sept. 10’s season opener against the Atlanta Falcons. 

 

“I’m looking forward to being there for the first game, and that’s my goal,” Trevathan said. 

Not only is Trevathan looking to prove he can come back healthy from his second leg injury (he suffered a fracture above his left kneecap in 2014), but he’s out to prove he’s better than the player he was when healthy in 2016. Trevathan admitted to not taking things as seriously as he usually did following Super Bowl 50, in which he notched four tackles and recovered two fumbles in the Denver Broncos’ 24-10 suffocation of the Carolina Panthers. 

“I felt a little too comfortable coming off a Super Bowl,” Trevathan said, later adding: “I was partying a little bit.

“… I didn’t really do what I usually do, which is get back to work, get right back to work, stay on it throughout the whole season, all of that. I wasn’t myself.”

The hope for the Bears is a motivated and healthy Trevathan can consistently be the run-stopping force he was in Denver. Even if he’s not taking every single practice rep possible as the Bears work him back this summer, the reps he is able to take should help he and Freeman re-ignite the rhythm they briefly found last year. 

“You know when you’re on the field, you see a formation, you see a motion, you see certain things out there and you just look over,” Freeman said. “You don’t even have to say anything. We know what’s about to happen, we know what’s going on or we know what kind of change we want to make. Just little things. You can go out there and ride.”

Trevathan took things a step further with his confidence in what he and Freeman can be in 2017. 

“We can be the best tandem in the league,” Trevathan said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”