Finally, Adam Shaheen has come back into our lives.
While speaking with reporters at his locker on Wednesday, Shaheen confirmed he practiced (as Head Coach Matt Nagy hoped he would). So first off …WOOHOO! AND while sharing updates with the assembled media, Shaheen discussed his injury, what he has seen in Mitch Trubisky, the difference between this year’s team and the one he played with as a rookie, and more.
Here are some highlights, as well as some additional thoughts and commentary from yours truly. Enjoy!
Some Clarity on the Injury
NFL teams don’t often offer up too much information when it comes to player injuries, so it was interesting to hear Shaheen discuss what kept him sidelined for the first eight games of the season in an up-front manner.
“I was in the cast and the boot for like seven weeks. And when I came out, it was the mobility of my ankle, foot, Achilles, and all that. It had been locked up for seven weeks and didn’t move. It needed time to get that back.”
Specifics on Shaheen’s injury weren’t made available early in the process, but we know know (through Shaheen) that his foot, ankle, and Achilles were impacted. Those are three significant aspects, so Shaheen and the Bears should thank their lucky stars that the injury wasn’t worse than what it turned out to be. Shaheen’s brief explanation also serves as reasoning why it might have taken longer than originally believed to diagnose and why the decision was made to put him on injured reserve. Remember, teams can designate only two players sent to IR for a return. Once the Bears get to that point with Shaheen, the next obvious candidate is Kyle Long.
No Timetable for a Return to the Playing Field
Practicing is just the first step for Shaheen, but the ultimate goal is to get on the playing surface, join the huddle, and lineup with his teammates. And while Shaheen participated in his first practice today, he wasn’t ready to put a timetable on anything else.
“We’ll see. It’s day to day. This is my first time out there practicing obviously, so we’ll see how it really goes and keep going from there.”
Trey Burton is holding it down as the “U” tight end in Matt Nagy’s offense, but Dion Sims is dealing with a concussion and Ben Braunecker returned to practice for the first time since before the Jets game in Week 8 after being placed in concussion protocol. The obvious hope here is that Shaheen gets in the mix sooner, rather than later. HOWEVER, the Bears have been cautious with getting injured players back into the swing of things. With that in mind, the expectation should be that the Bears would do the same with Shaheen.
Keeping Up By Staying Close
One of the challenges Shaheen faced was keeping up with what was going on with the team and his teammates while not physically participating. Football is a physical game, and while contact in practices has leveled off, there is still value in going through the motions in practice reps that help get players in tune with one another. But since that was out of the question, Shaheen turned to other ways to keep in touch.
“I’ve been going to every meeting, sitting through everything, going to the games, obviously. Keeping my mind in it while I couldn’t do it physically.”
If Shaheen needed a path to follow to successfully get that done, he probably could have turned to teammate Allen Robinson II. Throughout the offseason, Robinson was able to stay ahead of the game despite being unable to physically work out with the team by being active and attentive in meetings as he recovered from the ACL surgery that ended his 2017 season. Robinson has asserted himself as a leader early in his Bears career, so one can only hope Shaheen followed in those footsteps.
Watching Mitch Trubisky and Seeing Improvements from Last Year
When the Bears drafted Trubisky and Shaheen with their first two selections in the 2017 NFL Draft, it was easy to envision that tandem growing together whenever the offense got into gear. Trubisky throwing to a big-bodied target presented the potential for a duo the Bears haven’t had since Jay Cutler was tossing passes to Greg Olsen. You know Shaheen sees what the pass-catchers are doing now and wants to get in on the fun. Instead, he has been left watching from the sidelines – though, at least he likes what he sees.
“I’ve really seen him take his game up to another level. With the offense, in general, playing a lot better than last year. It’s been awesome to see.”
As for the difference between this year and last year, well, it doesn’t take a lot to explain it:
“I love the energy. I think it’s been night-and-day from last year and I’m excited to join in.”
.@adamshaheen3: “I’m excited to get a chance to play the back half of the season.”
#87 talks injury recovery and getting back in the swing of things. pic.twitter.com/Tz8wrDnG5v
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 7, 2018