Khalil Mack: ‘I feel like I'm ready' to make Bears debut against Packers


Khalil Mack has never missed a game in his four-year NFL career, and doesn’t intend to break his ironman streak a week from Sunday in Green Bay.

Mack held out for the entirety of the Oakland Raiders’ offseason program and preseason, so when he practices Monday at Halas Hall it’ll be the first time he’ll have done so since the end fo the 2017 season. But despite that lengthy layoff, Mack on Sunday said he’s confident he’ll be able to get after Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a week. 

“I feel like I'm ready but you know, the game — we've got to get out there and get to it and my body will respond the way it's going to respond,” Mack said. “And then coaches are going to kind of ease me into it and so we're going to figure it out.”

Mack would hardly be the first player to suit up for Week 1 after a lengthy holdout (Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell did last year, for instance). Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald held out until a day before last year’s regular season started, missed Week 1 but then after a week of practice played about two-thirds of the Rams’ snaps in Week 2. Using Donald as a barometer, perhaps it’s unfair to expect Mack to play a little under 90 percent of his team’s snaps — as he did in his four years with the Raiders — but is fair to expect him to play a significant role on Sunday night. 

Coach Matt Nagy wasn’t ready to commit to Mack playing against the Packers on Sunday, not before Mack goes through practices here in Lake Forest. But he did say the chances of Mack playing are “hopefully pretty good” once the Bears do get their first look at him on the practice field. 

“We're going to do everything we can to get him to a point to where he can play,” Nagy said. “But again, you know, I know he's been working out, training, and you see the guy. It's not hard to tell he's been doing that but we're going to be — we've got to be smart, because the last thing you want to do is just throw him out there and then all of a sudden, he's hurt and now you lose him for some time. That's what we don't want to do.”

Mack faced Rodgers back in 2015, playing 74 snaps with one sack and three total pressures in a 30-20 loss in Oakland. Rodgers, though, only completed 22 of 39 passes (56 percent) for 2014 yards with one touchdown and one interception in that game. The Bears will feel pretty good about their chances if Mack can help limit Rogers to a similar stat line. 

Mack said he “really can’t wait” to play again after not even practicing for the last eight months. But he didn’t want to say what Bears fans who, perhaps, haven’t watched much of the Raiders in the last four years can expect. He’ll let his play do the talking. 

“You could say a lot of different things, but until I go out there and play, I'm not a big talker,” Mack said. “I like to go out and use my actions to speak, you know, and when I get out there and get on the field, you can probably sense what's going to happen.

“But I want to win.”

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