LAKE FOREST (AP) — Consider Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky more of a casual fan of the Browns than a die-hard loyalist growing up near Cleveland.
He rooted for them because they were the local team. He hardly hung onto every play so don’t think his closet or drawers were filled with Browns jerseys.
“Couldn’t afford jerseys,” he said.
Trubisky will have a more vested interest in his hometown team this week because he will be on the opposite side when the Bears host winless Cleveland on Sunday.
He will try to push the Browns closer to another unwanted spot in NFL history and maybe get even with the team that didn’t take him with the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft.
Already the first team to start 0-14 in back-to-back seasons, Cleveland is two losses from joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16.
The Browns could have drafted Trubisky with the No. 1 pick. They went with defensive end Myles Garrett instead, while the Bears (4-10) traded up a spot with San Francisco to take Trubisky second overall.
“He is definitely a guy that we looked at,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “He had talent. He is from the area. It turned out the way we thought it would. Myles is here, and he is there in Chicago.”
Trubisky rooted more for NFL players, colleges and even his hometown Mentor High School than he did for the Browns. His interest in them was moderate.
“My goal was to get to this point and now that I’m here it’s just to get better every day,” Trubisky said. “But, yeah, it’s a big sense of pride for the area, just rooting for the hometown team and just the love for football and love of the game.”
Trubisky said he’ll have about 20 relatives and friends at Soldier Field, as he usually does. While facing his hometown team makes for a neat story, the bigger issue for him is improving on an uneven performance against Detroit last week and helping Chicago pick up a rare win.
The Bears have dropped six of seven after a 20-10 loss to the Lions. It was a step back for a team coming off a 26-point pounding of Cincinnati and its most lopsided victory since 2012.
Trubisky was at his best and worst in the Detroit game.
His 31 completions, 46 attempts and 314 yards passing were all career highs. But so were his three interceptions. A 66.8 rating was a big drop from the 112.4 he posted the previous week.
Trubisky overthrew his receiver on the first interception and tried to hit a target in double coverage in the end zone on the second one. The third was the result of a miscommunication with tight end Daniel Brown near the end of the game.
Yet offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains insisted he saw growth “in a lot of different situations” and a quarterback showing poise in the pocket.
“You wanna talk about stat lines and all you see is the three interceptions and you’re missing what really happened in the game and two of them, we need to have back,” Loggains said.
“We need to make those plays, a better decision, a better throw on the two that he can control. But he played really well outside those two plays, made good decisions, you know, and he needs to do the same thing this week.”
Trubisky will be going against a defense that likes to blitz. But they’re tied for 24th in sacks and have struggled against the pass.
There’s a chance for the rookie to have a big game.
“He is dealing with the growing pains just like any other quarterback who is a young rookie player,” Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey said.
“We just have to make sure that we make it as difficult for him as possible. He is playing at home. We want to make sure that we are giving him different looks and not letting him see what we are in, disguise a lot. Just different things like that. I think he is a good player. He is going to continue to develop as a quarterback.”
NOTES: Coach John Fox said G Kyle Long had surgery Tuesday for a herniated disc in his neck. … The Bears placed LB Pernell McPhee (shoulder) on injured reserve.
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