Bears Use Cautious Approach In Sitting Khalil Mack

October 28, 2018 - 4:31 pm
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Two hours before a noon kickoff at Soldier Field on Sunday, star outside linebacker Khalil Mack emerged from the northwest tunnel in Bears navy and orange sweats. 

Mack threw a football with tackle Bradley Sowell and jogged lightly but didn't attempt tests of agility or explosiveness on his injured right ankle. There were no team trainers or coaches in sight during the brief time before he went back to the tunnel and into the locker room.

The Bears had little intention of letting Mack suit up for the game, a 24-10 victory over the Jets in which they improved to 4-3. They had seen over the last two weeks how hampered Mack was by the injury and realized what a weekend off could do to help him back. 

Coach Matt Nagy indicated earlier in the week that sidelining Mack would be a difficult decision. By Sunday morning, it was fairly simple.

"For him and for our team, it's the best thing to just let him sit this one," Nagy said after the game. "Fortunately we came out with a win. But that's just how it goes." 

Entering Sunday, Mack had played in all 70 career games since being drafted in 2014. He could've toughed it out once again and played through the pain, but the Bears realized they would be doing that at a cost. Mack hadn't recorded a sack or been himself since getting his right ankle rolled up at Miami on Oct. 14 and needed time to heal.

The Bears held Mack out of practices Wednesday and Thursday over the last two weeks -- more involved game preparation -- while listing him as a limited participant in their Friday walk-throughs. But that maintenance had only gone so far.

Playing without Mack for the first time this season, the Bears held the Jets to just 207 total yards and 10 points.

"You always want to ride for your guys, especially when they're down," defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. "You just do your best to play to the best of your capability. Don't forget, we were a top-10 defense before (Mack's arrival)."

Chicago plays at Buffalo (2-5) next Sunday. It remains to be seen whether Mack will play, though one can presume he will be handled with caution at practice this week.

Mack's health will continue to be monitored by the Bears as they move forward with the hopes that he can return as the force he's expected to be.

"The hope is that he can (play in Buffalo)," Nagy said. "This is a day-by-day, hour-by-hour (decision).

"Right now, that was what was best for him and what was best for us."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​