Joniak: Bears Defense Has Found 'Contagious' Energy

Khalil Mack has 23 quarterback pressures, the second-most in the NFL.

Jeff Joniak
October 01, 2019 - 4:49 pm
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (WBBM Newsradio) -- The Bears (3-1) are continuing preparations to face the Raiders (2-2) in London on Sunday. Here are the news and notes from Halas Hall on Tuesday.

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-- The Bears will leave for London on Thursday evening, while the Raiders are already there, having chosen to leave immediately after their win over the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday. Every Bears player whom I've spoken to this week feels the "get in and get out" plan is the best approach for what the team views as a business trip.

-- Count star edge rusher Khalil Mack among the many who are all about the business of beating the Raiders and coming home 4-1 with a bye week awaiting. The incentive for a team still driven to be a Super Bowl contender is significant with what lies ahead on the schedule.  

-- Once the schedule was unveiled, Mack was always going to be the story this week, as he's facing his former team. Mack will make no headlines. It's simply not his style. Nonetheless, this game is significant. "Absolutely, there are feelings you suppress, but it’s also no big deal to me," Mack said. "I love the Bears, and we’re going to go out and try to get this win."

-- Mack is wrecking opposing offenses, with his 23 quarterback pressures ranking second in the NFL. He shares the NFL lead with four forced fumbles with Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus, and Mack has 4.5 sacks in four games. The Raiders didn't invest in him, but the Bears were happy to accommodate one of the premier defenders in the league in trading for him just before the start of the 2018 regular season.

-- For Mack, this game isn't about proving to the Raiders he's worth the $141 million that the Bears invested in him after the trade. "I am not a talker, man," Mack said. "I just want to go out and show, and I am just going to let that be that."

-- Dismantling the Vikings offense the way the Bears defense did in a win Sunday has refocused the attention on Mack and the overall excellence of the unit. "I can’t really describe it to be honest," Mack said. "It’s what you call ... it’s kind of contagious. It’s kind of one of those energies that you catch, and everybody’s been catching it." 

-- Second-year linebacker Roquan Smith was in the locker room for the open media session Tuesday -- but only briefly. It remains unclear what personal matter he's handling for the moment that kept him out of the team's win Sunday. "It’s something that’s in-house, but at the same time we know that he’s going to get better and we’re looking forward to (him) getting back out there with us," Mack said.

-- Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch indicated the locker room is taking a "family" approach to Smith’s privacy. "We love him up," Lynch said. "We’re so close on this team. We’re there for everybody and that’s every day. We’re just there for him."

-- Bears receiver Allen Robinson is making his fifth trip to London for a football game. He previously went with the Jaguars four times. "It’s a fun atmosphere," he said. "It will be a great turnout and a lot of anticipation from the fan base over there."

-- Kicker Eddy Pineiro started his career with the Raiders, but an injury wiped out his 2018 season, resulting in the trade to the Bears in May. "It’s going to be a cool feeling," Pineiro said. Pineiro feels better about his sore right knee, though he admits it has been a challenge. 

-- Pinero was a talented soccer player, and he's excited about kicking in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. His favorite team growing up was Real Madrid.  

-- Left tackle Charles Leno is a big soccer fan. The Tottenham Hotspur is one of his favorite teams. 

-- With Chase Daniel the presumed starter at quarterback in place of the sore-shouldered Mitchell Trubisky, Robinson will change nothing about his preparation or the way he performs. "It’s the same thing," Robinson said. "Being where I need to be when I need to be there."

-- The Bears re-signed tight end Bradley Sowell on Tuesday for a second time in eight days.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.