Coach Matt Nagy revealed Wednesday that tight end Trey Burton underwent sports hernia surgery earlier this offseason to repair a lingering injury that forced him to miss the Bears' wild-card playoff game against the Eagles.
"When the season was over, we just thought, 'OK, let's pull back a little bit and let's let him get a little bit of rest, come back and see where he's at,'" Nagy said.
"We did that, and he wasn't feeling really comfortable with it, and so we went ahead and a couple months ago he ended up getting sports hernia surgery. No need for us to keep dragging this thing out; let's get the thing right, and so we feel like we've done that."
The Bears are hopeful that Burton will be ready to return for the start of training camp in July. Burton signed with the Bears last year after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Eagles. He proceeded to start all 16 games for the first time since entering the league and set career highs in all receiving categories with 54 receptions, 569 yards and six touchdowns.
Stepping up: With Burton sidelined, Adam Shaheen helped fill the void at the position in Wednesday's OTA practice by making a few impressive downfield catches.
The 2017 second-round draft pick was performing well in training camp last summer before he sustained foot and ankle injuries in a preseason game in Denver that forced him to miss the first nine regular-season contests.
"Last year I was just starting to learn who he was as a player and what he could handle offensively," Nagy said. "Then he got hurt in the preseason game. That was disappointing because I think he knew that his arrow was going up.
"The biggest thing for Adam is to make sure that he does everything he can physically to stay healthy. And then mentally, he was in all the meetings last year, making sure that he was staying up mentally with everything. Now to be able to put both of those things together is going to be the biggest prize for us."
Long story: The Bears offense is benefitting from having veteran guard Kyle Long participating in OTA practices. Last year the three-time Pro Bowler sat out the entire offseason program while recovering from multiple surgeries.
"Just his presence out here, it automatically raises the tempo and energy that everyone brings out here," said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. "Everyone wants to go harder when Kyle's on the field. Just the intensity he brings, the focus and how badly he wants this team to win … It's every single drill, every single snap, he's bringing it and helping guys get locked in.
"It's not really hard to get this group locked in; that's kind of the culture we've built. Guys just come here, they come ready to work. Kyle's one of those guys that's leading the charge, and he keeps it fun as well. It's awesome having him out here."
This, that and the other: Free-agent acquisition Cordarrelle Patterson is showing his versatility on the practice field. But after watching Patterson excel in multiple roles in six NFL seasons with the Vikings, Raiders and Patriots, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich isn't surprised.
"We saw the gamut unfortunately up close and personal last year," Helfrich said, referring to Patterson's 95-yard kickoff return touchdown against the Bears last season. "The guy can take it the distance as a returner, one of the best in the league if not the best at that. He's been a role player so-to-speak as a receiver, he's been a role player in the backfield and then as a tool guy: a jet sweep guy, a screen guy, this. that and the other."
The Bears are still formulating their plan for how they will utilize Patterson this season, something that figures to be on ongoing process.
"It's just a matter of each week picking and choosing and playing to his strengths," Helfrich said. "He's another guy today who came up and asked just some great questions and is still a guy this far into his career who's hungry to learn and compete."
Bears rookies and veterans hit the field at Halas Hall for offseason practice.