While Trey Burton isn't 100 percent, Bears believe he's on the rise

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — While Trey Burton isn’t feeling 100 percent yet, he said there’s “no doubt” he’ll be ready for the Bears’ season opener Sept. 5 against the Green Bay Packers. 

Burton in May underwent sports hernia surgery — which was related to the injury that kept him out of the Bears’ playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles — and missed all of his team's offseason program practices during the spring. He targeted a return for Day 1 of training camp, so just getting on the field for Friday’s closed-to-the-public practice at Olivet Nazarene University represented a target met in his recovery. 

Still, the Bears and Burton will be cautious as they work to get one of the more critical pieces of their offense back into football shape in the coming weeks. 

Whatever that looks like — perhaps a rest day here or there, or not participating in any/all preseason games, or even just a targeted number of practice reps — remains to be seen. But the Bears know what they have in Burton as he enters Year 2 with the team, while they haven’t figured out what they have in a guy like undrafted rookie Dax Raymond yet. 

Armed with that knowledge of his “U” tight end, coach Matt Nagy can better tailor certain aspects of his offense to what Burton does best. 

“He’s on the rise,” Nagy said. “So, as close as everybody thinks our offense is with Philadelphia and what he came from, there’s a lot of similarities. But at the same time, I’m learning who he was, what his strengths and weaknesses are. I said it with Alex (Smith) and Mitch (Trubisky), learning how they’re different and how they’re the same. 

“Well it’s the same thing with (Travis) Kelce and Trey. They’re both very good tight ends, but they’re different. So now I think I have a better feel on what Trey does well, along with our quarterback having a better feel.”

Consider Burton a good example, then, of what the Bears being collectively in Year 2 of this offense can look like. As Nagy said, Burton signed with the Bears in 2018 after finding some success in Doug Pederson’s Eagles offense, which came from the same Andy Reid coaching tree as Nagy’s. And while in Kansas City, Nagy had one of the league’s best tight ends at his disposal in Kelce — the film of whom the Bears had to watch a year ago without any tape of their own yet. 

“It’s cool because they’re not watching the Chiefs, they’re watching the Bears,” Nagy said. 

Burton is one of four players on the Bears to have played in and won a Super Bowl (the others: wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, linebacker Danny Trevathan and cornerback Prince Amukamara), allowing him to provide an important perspective on a team with legitimate aspirations of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February. While Burton’s significant importance to the Bears’ offense is clear, that Super Bowl experience is frequently pointed to by Nagy. And as the Bears figure out how to handle the weight of their 2019 Super Bowl expectations, they believe Burton can make a positive impact in that regard, too. 

“I think it’s pretty new for a lot of us to be — I wouldn’t say a favorite, but in contention, a team that has a chance to win a Super Bowl,” Burton said. “I know us as a group have definitely embraced it. I know Nagy has embraced it. We kinda go off him. However he feeds us. However he feels we kind of follow. We have his back. A lot of guys are excited. This is new territory for a lot of people, and it’s a lot of fun.”

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