MONSTER’S MASH: A meeting with an old friend

DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 15: Head coach Vic Fangio of the Denver Broncos talks to head coach Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears during pregame warmup at Empower Field at Mile High on September 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

LAKE FOREST – They knew this was going to happen once he took the job. After all, the Broncos were on their rotation of AFC teams for the 2019 season.

But the schedule makers decided that the Bears’ meeting with their former coach would come quite early in the campaign – and it might not be at the best time for either team.

Vic Fangio, the Bears’ defensive coordinator the previous four seasons, will face his old team as head coach of the Broncos on Sunday afternoon in Denver. It comes after the coach lost his first game in Oakland and after the Bears’ had an offensive dud their opening night loss to the Packers.

“It really is just another game, especially coming off our last game,” said Fangio when asked about going up against the Bears this week. “We just need to go out there and play a little bit better, no question about it. It will be a little different once I see all those guys in pregame and what not. But after we kick it off it will be another NFL football game.”

Yet it might not be to the Bears, especially their defenders. Fangio was a major part in building the Bears’ defense into one of the best in the league. He developed a strong bond with those players, who were sad to see him go, yet supported their coach getting his chance to finally lead a team.

They know that Fangio knows them, both on offense and defense, which will make beating their former coach quite a challenge.

“He knows the type of players we have here; going up against our offense in practice and things like that. Also the type of guys we have on defense; he knows our strengths and also our weaknesses,” said safety Eddie Jackson of Fangio. “It’s gonna be a fun one, a tough one.”

TREYS’ DAY HAS ARRIVED

After a frustrating string of injuries that started a few days before the Wild Card game last January, the Bears’ No. 1 tight end will be on the field on Sunday.

The Bears activated Trey Burton for Sunday’s game with the Broncos after he missed the season opener with a slight groin strain. It’s the first time that he’s played since the Bears’ Week 17 win over the Vikings at US Bank Stadium.

It’s been a journey for Burton since then, especially since he’s never dealt with injury problems during his entire football career. He had offseason sports hernia surgery which caused him to miss the majority of offseason training, was worked slowly back into workouts during training camp, then injured his groin late in the preseason.

Like always, however, Burton praised the Bears for not rushing his comeback, allowing the injury to heal fully before bringing him back.

“I can’t be more thankful to be in an organization like this. Not many other places would do what they’re doing here in Chicago,” said Burton of the Bears. “From the head trainers to the GM to the head coach. Man, I’m so thankful for those guys and that process. They’ve trusted me through all of this.”

STAT OF THE WEEK: 16

The number of years since the Bears have won in Denver. That’s when the Kordell Stewart led Bears knocked off the playoff-bound Broncos 19-10 in 2003.

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