It's unrealistic to expect Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith to become the next Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. But the veteran and rookie do have the potential to emerge as a dynamic duo.
The two inside linebackers are both speedy, athletic and instinctive sideline-to-sideline three-down players who figure to anchor the Bears defense in 2018 and beyond.
Trevathan returns after recording a team-high 89 tackles along with four tackles-for-loss, two sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2017. He's entering his third year with the Bears after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Broncos.
"We went against Danny when I was in Kansas City and he was at Denver, so we always knew what kind of player he was," said coach Matt Nagy. "He has the demeanor to him, a focus. He's very serious when he's out there on the field and he'll be a great mentor for Roquan."
Having practiced alongside Smith in OTA workouts Tuesday and Wednesday, Trevathan likes what he has seen from the eighth overall pick in this year's draft.
"He's quick, instinctive, learns well," Trevathan said. "He's just out here trying to get better. That's what I like about him. He's calling the call sheets out. He's learning the plays. That's what you want in him. You want him to come out here and be humble. You want him to work hard. I see that in his eyes, coming out here. It's a lot of lights on him. It's a lot of attention on him. But he's finding himself out here, coming out here and trying to make some plays."
As one of the Bears' respected veterans, Trevathan feels a responsibility to help mentor Smith, who won the Butkus Award last year at Georgia as the nation's best linebacker.
"I'm going to help him as much as I can," Trevathan said. "That's my job here as a leader on this defense. He's a guy that works his tail off, so it shouldn't be hard to give him little details about anything. Anything he needs help with, I'm right here to help him with."
Trevathan feels that he and Smith will help each other by pushing each other and communicating.
"I'm just anxious to see how he keeps growing," Trevathan said. "He's got a good head on his shoulders, came from a good program. I feel like we got a good linebacker."
In Wednesday's practice, Smith showed some of the unique traits that helped convince the Bears to select him with the eighth pick in the draft when he quickly diagnosed a short pass near the sideline and arrived on the scene in an instant.
"You saw one play we threw the ball to the flat," Nagy said. "He just came out like a rocket and made a play, and that made me chuckle a little bit because that's what I saw on tape."