Chicago Bears anxious to see effect of Mack attack
Even his new Bears teammates and coach Matt Nagy are anxious to see what three-time Pro Bowl OLB Khalil Mack can do, and Nagy admits it would be difficult to not play him Sunday night in Green Bay against the Packers.
“Most of us all know what he can do, and so it’s the anticipation of being able to see it, and then the happiness of knowing that he’s doing it for your team,” Nagy said. “So we’ll see how it goes, but when he’s out there, I can promise you this, when he’s going, he’s going to give it everything he has. And we just have to figure out how much.”
Mack did not participate in the Raiders’ training camp or any of their preseason games as he sought the six-year, $141-million contract extension that the Bears were happy to provide, along with the two first-round draft choices it required to pry him away from Jon Gruden’s team. Mack has been working out on his own, and Nagy said he looks to be in excellent shape, but his availability for Week One will depend on how he looks physically in practices this week, which began Monday morning inside the Walter Payton Center.
“We want to be able to see some conditioning when he’s out there, (if) he’s able to really give 100 percent of what he can do,” Nagy said. “That’s gonna be just communication between him, myself, (defensive coordinator) Vic (Fangio) and our trainers on a day-to-day basis. And there aren’t many days. We know time is of the essence. We’ve got to have a good, solid plan with that balance of not doing too much, but pushing him to where we get him ready.”
Mack’s new teammates are also pumped to see what kind of a difference the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year will make – especially CB Prince Amukamara.
Amukamara, who has seven interceptions in seven seasons, got some blowback when he mentioned in the offseason a goal of getting 10 picks this year. It wasn’t a prediction, just a goal, but some took it the wrong way.
“Just joking, and this is a disclaimer, but those 10 picks are looking a little bit more promising,” Amukamara said. “I would say the clock in the quarterback’s head I’m sure is going to be a lot shorter. I can’t sugarcoat it, but what Mack does to our defense brings a whole new dynamic. It really just shows that management and this organization, we’re going for it, and you’ve got to appreciate aggressiveness like this.”
DL Akiem Hicks led the Bears with 8.5 sacks last year, but he won’t see as many double-teams this year, playing alongside Mack, who’s had 36.5 sacks over the past three seasons.
“It’s nice to have such a prolific rusher outside me,” Hicks said. “He’s the type of player that makes everybody’s job easier, just because he’s such a threat. He makes this defense just a little bit more ferocious -- shoot, a lot more ferocious.”
OLT Charles Leno says he’ll get better by trying to block Mack in practice because he possesses all the tools of an impact pass rusher.
“Great competition,” Leno said. “Like I say all the time, ‘Iron sharpens iron.’ I love everything about it. He has every tool you need to be a great rusher -- speed, power, length, athleticism — all of it.”
Even though Mack isn’t yet ready to go full speed for an entire practice, he was good enough on Monday to get a reaction from ORT Bobby Massie.
“Our right tackle, (on Mack’s) second play, turned around and gave me the eyes when he rushed him,” Nagy said. “That’s good to see. It helps make our (defensive) guys better. On the offensive line, it makes them better as well.”