After missing the first 10 days of training camp with a hamstring injury, veteran inside linebacker Danny Trevathan returned to practice Monday in Bourbonnais.
"To have Danny back is good because we all know he's a leader on that defense and he's played in this game for a long time," said coach Matt Nagy. "When you have a guy that has the experience, the confidence and the playing demeanor that he has—anytime you have that—we always welcome that back."
Entering his third season with the Bears, Trevathan is a key member of a defense that ranked ninth in the NFL in points allowed and 10th in total yards last year. Despite missing four games, he led the unit with 89 tackles and was the only member of the defense to record a sack (2), interception (1), forced fumble (1) and fumble recovery (1).
Trevathan hurt his hamstring while working out on his own a few days before the start of training camp.
"It just popped," he said. "I'm happy that it happened as early as it did. Now I'm just working my way in and trying to get back and help this team get better."
With Trevathan and several other experienced starters returning from last year's top-10 defense, expectations are high for the unit this season.
"We want to be the best defense in the league," Trevathan said. "There's no settling. We want to get back to it. We had a glimpse of that last year; we ended up being one of the top 10 defenses. Now we're more hungry. We've got some guys back that know the defense, so it's all about getting together, working together. Let's go out here and get this thing done."
To achieve those lofty goals, Trevathan believes that the Bears must increase their interception total—they've had just eight in each of the past three seasons—and perform better on third down after ranking 20th in that category last year.
"We want to get after teams and make them get off the field," Trevathan said. "No matter what position we're put in—up against the wall, backed up, whatever—we want to get off the field and make them pay the ultimate price."
While Trevathan returned Monday, fellow inside linebacker Roquan Smith—the Bears' first-round draft pick—remained a contract holdout.
"I've been talking to him, just making sure as a person he was all right," Trevathan said. "He's missing out, but he's a smart player.
"We'll get him up to date. There's a lot of stuff you can't get unless you're out there on that field, that's working with the guys next to you and communicating with the person that's going to be in with you. He's got some catching up to do, but we'll get him caught up, it's no problem."