Foles gets ac­cli­mated, but ex­pe­dited sit­u­a­tion doesn’t help his cause

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - mpotash@sun­times.com | @MarkPo­tash MARK POTASH BEARS BEAT

Quar­ter­back Nick Foles is in a six-fur­long race. But he needs a mile.

“Ev­ery day I’m get­ting more and more com­fort­able,” he said. “The more we rep plays and the more we talk through them, the more I get com­fort­able with the guys out there. That’s hap­pen­ing ev­ery sin­gle day.”

When the Bears ac­quired Foles in a trade with the Jaguars in March, he was pegged by many as a re­place­ment for Mitch Tru­bisky or the likely win­ner of a quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion. But the lim­i­ta­tions be­cause of COVID-19 al­tered that sce­nario, with Foles “learn­ing” the of­fense vir­tu­ally via Zoom meet­ings — not even get­ting on the field with his new team­mates un­til Au­gust.

Foles might still be the win­ner of the open com­pe­ti­tion with Tru­bisky for the start­ing job. But he seemed to ac­knowl­edge that the short­ened time frame to get ac­cli­mated to a new or­ga­ni­za­tion, a new of­fense and new team­mates has been a fac­tor.

“It’s been a re­ally unique sit­u­a­tion with ev­ery­thing go­ing on in the world — and this year, not hav­ing OTAs and get­ting here, ev­ery­thing’s ex­pe­dited,” Foles said.

“Not only are you try­ing to play foot­ball and learn this new of­fense, which has sim­i­lar­i­ties to what I’ve done be­fore, but there’s still a ton of new [things]. You’re meet­ing a lot of new peo­ple and try­ing to build those re­la­tion­ships and learn their names while also learn­ing the area. So all that pulls from your en­ergy.”

Foles has never won an open com­pe­ti­tion be­fore. He lost one at Ari­zona as a sopho­more. He lost one to Michael Vick (and Matt Barkley) with the Ea­gles in 2013. He has done his best work in the NFL as a backup with a higher de­gree of fa­mil­iar­ity re­plac­ing a starter in an es­tab­lished of­fense.

That doesn’t mean he can’t ex­cel as a No. 1 from the start. He’s used to learn­ing new sys­tems and de­vel­op­ing chem­istry with new team­mates. But he seems to thrive on fa­mil­iar­ity more than most. And that takes time.

“It’s not the first time I’ve done it, but it’s the most ex­pe­dited,” Foles said. “It’s been dif­fer­ent, but I’ve been en­joy­ing it and just sort of lean­ing in and em­brac­ing [it] be­cause that’s the time, and that’s where we’re at.

“The tough part is [that] you’re try­ing to ex­pe­dite build­ing re­la­tion­ships, which isn’t al­ways easy. But that’s the sit­u­a­tion we’re in. I’m do­ing my best to lean in and em­brace that.”

The fo­cus might be a lit­tle more on Foles be­cause Tru­bisky has been un­able to par­lay his fa­mil­iar­ity with Nagy’s of­fense into a stand­out train­ing camp. He looks like the Mitch Tru­bisky he has been — some good, some bad, but noth­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary.

“I feel like I’ve had a good camp, and I’m just try­ing to get bet­ter ev­ery day,” Tru­bisky said after prac­tice Satur­day at Sol­dier Field.

Asked what he would like to do bet­ter this week as de­ci­sion day gets closer, Tru­bisky was clear.

“Just run­ning the of­fense,” he said. “I would like to show the coaches that I can cre­ate more ex­plo­sive plays of of­fense throw­ing the ball down­field and just make great de­ci­sions over­all and run the of­fense. But, re­ally, get on the same page with [Nagy] and just fig­ure out where we’re at and see what in his eyes I can con­tinue to im­prove to ei­ther sep­a­rate my­self or get a good chance to help lead this team.”

Tru­bisky will get that op­por­tu­nity Mon­day, when he has a chance to run the same full-field, two-minute drill that Foles ran ex­pertly last Wed­nes­day — ar­guably the only time one quar­ter­back clearly has dis­tanced him­self from the other.

Un­for­tu­nately, those op­por­tu­ni­ties are rare in an open com­pe­ti­tion. So Mon­day’s drive is huge for him. It’s an ad­di­tional op­por­tu­nity for Tru­bisky, a chance to show he can come through with the pres­sure on.

Mul­ti­ple out­lets re­ported the Jaguars on Sun­day agreed to trade dis­grun­tled pass rusher Yan­nick Ngak­oue to the Vik­ings for a sec­ond-round draft pick in 2021 and a con­di­tional fifth-rounder in 2022. Nei­ther team con­firmed the deal be­cause it had not been fi­nal­ized with the NFL.

Ngak­oue, 25, re­port­edly agreed to re­work his 2020 salary to leave the Jaguars and still has to sign his one-year fran­chise ten­der with them to make the deal hap­pen. He had been the NFL’s only fran­chise-tagged player un­signed, opt­ing to turn down an of­fer that would have guar­an­teed him $17.8 mil­lion this sea­son. He will make roughly $13 mil­lion in 2020, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

Ngak­oue made it clear sev­eral times that he no longer wanted to play for the Jaguars, even spar­ring with the owner’s son on Twit­ter dur­ing the off­sea­son. And he left mil­lions on the ta­ble to make the deal hap­pen.

He will give the Vik­ings a young, proven pass rusher whose work ethic and in­ten­sity al­ways have been among the most re­spected in the Jaguars’ locker room. He also should ease the loss of four-time Pro Bowl se­lec­tion Ever­son Griffen, who signed a one-year deal with the Cow­boys this month.

Ngak­oue has 37oe sacks and 14 forced fum­bles in four sea­sons. He made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and was an al­ter­nate the last two sea­sons. He earned $2.025 mil­lion in 2019 — far less than other top play­ers at his po­si­tion.

Jets run­ning back Per­ine in­jures an­kle

Jets rookie run­ning back La’Mi­cal Per­ine suf­fered an un­spec­i­fied in­jury to his left an­kle while be­ing tack­led dur­ing prac­tice, and coach Adam Gase said he would have an MRI to de­ter­mine the na­ture and sever­ity of it. Per­ine was carted to the locker room after limp­ing no­tice­ably to the side­line.

Re­port: Charg­ers safety James out again

NFL.com re­ported Charg­ers safety Der­win James, who missed all but five games last sea­son with a stress frac­ture in his right foot, is likely to miss sig­nif­i­cant time with a menis­cus in­jury suf­fered dur­ing prac­tice.


Nick Foles (left) is get­ting used to a new or­ga­ni­za­tion, a new of­fense and new team­mates.

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