By Chris Emma

By Chris Emma—

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (CBS) – The reputation of Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan is known throughout the league. It’s one of great professionalism.

Kyle Long knew that well when they first became teammates last season, but he gained a new appreciation for Trevathan as they went through injury rehabs together. Both Long and Trevathan spent the offseason recovering from significant setbacks.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Danny’s an extreme competitor,” Long said Thursday after he and Trevathan practiced. “He’s a consummate professional. The guy works his butt off.

“I’m like, ‘What else can I do to match his commitment and preparation?’”

Trevathan carries himself with a positive spirit, which helped guide him through an offseason that would’ve otherwise been difficult. He suffered a torn patellar tendon in his right knee late last season and required surgery.

Trevathan faced a long, grueling recovery, one that could have kept him from being on the field Thursday. But sure enough, he was there.

“It starts in your mind,”Trevathan said. “Your mind can defeat you. As soon as you start having doubts, that’s when you start going backwards. That’s not the type of person I am.

“The great ones come back from injuries, and there’s nothing to them. Me being out here was another step towards that – going out to help this team be better and win some games.

Added coach John Fox: “He’s way ahead of schedule. He worked his fanny off to get back and get ready.”

Trevathan was signed to a four-year deal worth $24.5 million in March 2016 with the hopes that he could lead a new defensive identity for the Bears. They had been lacking a presence like that of Trevathan, who was a key part of the Broncos’ vaunted defense that spearheaded Denver to a Super Bowl championship about a month before he signed in Chicago.

In Trevathan, the Bears had added an accomplished inside linebacker with production to his name. He had posted 109 tackles in 15 games during the 2015 season. In Denver, Fox was the head coach who oversaw his rise from sixth-round pick to tremendous talent.

But beyond the numbers, the Bears knew they were also adding a player whose swagger would spread throughout their defensive identity. After a 3-13 season in 2016 – one that sorely missed Trevathan for seven games – this defense is counting on its leader at linebacker.

“A lot of people got their backs turned to us,” Trevathan said. “We’re going to come out swinging.

“It’s just us against the world. That’s how it is. … We know that we can be way better.”

While the presence of Trevathan was certainly a welcomed sign for the Bears, he isn’t out of the woods just yet. The team is still easing him back to form. Time is on the Bears’ side to ensure it’s a smooth completion to this recovery.

Given the nature this injury, it seemed unlikely that Trevathan would be ready for Week 1. Now, that’s the target

“Right now, I’m looking forward to being there for the first game,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

Watch & Listen LIVE