First task for Packers RT Bryan Bulaga: facing Bears’ Mack
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is familiar enough with the pass-rushing prowess of Khalil Mack to know what to expect when the Chicago Bears visit Lambeau Field on Sunday night.
No film necessary of Mack playing with his new team.
It’ll be up to Bulaga, the veteran Green Bay Packers lineman, to keep Mack out of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ face.
“Well I mean he’s a complete player,” Bulaga said after practice Wednesday. “He has power, he has speed, he has good hands, so from a pass-rushing standpoint, he is a complete rusher. Then he plays the run really well too. ... He deserves all that money.”
A blockbuster trade sent Mack from the Raiders to the Bears last weekend to bolster what could be a dangerous pass rush. Chicago made him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history with a six-year, $141 million extension that guarantees $90 million.
Mack, who missed the whole offseason with Oakland, practiced for the first time Monday with the Bears. He’s just getting up to speed, though coach Matt Nagy seems hopeful the prized acquisition will suit up for the latest edition of one of the NFL’s marquee rivalries.
“We’ll see. We hope so,” Nagy said. “I know he wants to, and so as we go here day by day, we’re just going to judge it and kind of test him out and get a good feel.”
Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks is downright giddy about Mack. Asked about Green Bay’s starting offensive line Wednesday, Hicks responded: “I know those five guys can’t block Khalil Mack.”
The Packers passed when given ample opportunities to respond.
“I don’t need to react to every comment that’s made,” Rodgers said. “I think I’ve made that pretty clear.”
The Packers have faced Mack once before, when Green Bay won 30-20 at Oakland on Dec. 20, 2015 . Then a second-year player, Mack had one of his 15 sacks that season in that game, though he had just two tackles.
The Packers, especially the offensive linemen, might take a look at the film again, though there’s not a direct correlation to preparing for Mack with the Bears.
“We’re focused on (Bears coordinator Vic) Fangio’s defense. They’ll plug him in accordingly,” Rodgers said. “Not sure how he’s going to play, but I would guess they’re going to try to get him out there as much as possible. But we’ll be ready and look forward to the challenge.”
Just in time for Bulaga’s first game since Week 9 last season, too. The nine-year pro is back after tearing his right ACL last year, the second major knee injury of his career. A quick healer and hard worker, Bulaga is meeting his goal of being ready for the season opener.
As for Hicks’ bulletin-board comment about Mack being unblockable?
“Any offense? It is what it is. Yeah, I have to be prepared to get ready to block him. I have to play a really clean game and block him,” Bulaga said. “He’s a good football player. It’s just a matter of trying to execute your job to the best of your ability throughout the entire game.”
NOTES: S Josh Jones (ankle) was the only Packer who didn’t practice Wednesday. ... LBs Oren Burks (shoulder) and James Crawford (hamstring) were limited.