Khalil Mack injury issue pressures struggling Bears
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The running game already works for the Chicago Bears; they’re sixth in the NFL in rushing.
Quarterback Justin Fields says he feels the passing game is close to doing the same to balance out their offense, and he needs to be right because his 3-4 team could be facing an entirely new challenge.
Reportedly, the Bears are thinking of resting edge rusher Khalil Mack this week against the San Francisco 49ers and possibly longer so he can get over a nagging foot sprain.
“The only thing I would say to that is we’re working through everything right now with Khalil, you know,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said via Zoom, while in quarantine after a positive COVID-19 test. “As everybody knows, he’s been battling through his foot injury the last several weeks. You’ve seen that with practice.
“There’s been absolutely no decisions made. We’ll just kind of see where that all ends up.”
It’s been the pass rush combined with the running game helping prop up the team while Fields navigates the hazards facing any rookie quarterback in the NFL. The Bears are last in passing at 124.4 yards a game, but now Fields says he thinks the passing game is close to succeeding.
Fields’ evidence of this seems a bit sketchy considering he is coming off a three-interception game against Tampa Bay.
“I can feel it,” Fields said.
Asked to elaborate, Fields added, “Just feel it. You just have those feelings. You just feel it. It’s coming.”
The Bears drafted Fields after deciding to let Mitchell Trubisky leave in free agency, and then signing veteran Andy Dalton. After two games, Fields was starting for the injured Dalton and has kept the job, but he wasn’t working to build a chemistry with first-team receivers much at practice before becoming the starter.
The Bears haven’t had 200 net passing yards in a game this season.
“We have solid chemistry,” Fields said. “We, of course, need to get better. It’s not the best in the country, of course, but we’re growing each and every day.”
Fields and receiver Darnell Mooney are trying to do extra work now to synch up the passing attack.
“So, I mean, me him and some other receivers are going to start meeting on Zoom by ourselves and kind of start getting our own thing together,” he said.
The extra meetings have to be remote because of coronavirus precautions at Halas Hall after a rash of positive COVID-19 tests. There had been five positive tests in 11 days, including edge rusher Robert Quinn, and then right tackle Elijah Wilkinson just hours before Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers.
The Bears can practice, but their team and position meetings are done remotely.
“Obviously he wants to win,” Mooney said of Fields. “We want to win as well. So I mean, chemistry takes a long time to build up.
“But we’re trying to speed up the process, get it to where we need it to be right now. That’s the thing we’re working on.”
With the Bears averaging 14.4 points a game, Nagy would be satisfied with points however they come.
“Well, you know, we understand that we want to be a heck of a lot better and be able to be more explosive and have bigger plays that we haven’t produced as much right now that will help you get in the end zone and score those points,” Nagy said. “However that comes, whether it’s a long run or a long pass, we really don’t care.
“If it’s a 15-play drive that ends in seven points, great.”
NOTES: Nagy said rookie tackle Larry Borom is coming off injured reserve after he had a high ankle sprain in the season’s first game. Borom could wind up starting because Wilkinson is on the reserve/COVID-19 list and starter Germain Ifedi is on injured reserve with a knee injury. ... Mack was the only Bears player to miss practice because of injury on Wednesday. Starting defensive end Akiem Hicks (groin) and safety Tashaun Gipson (hip) missed Sunday’s game but were able to practice on a limited basis.
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