Joniak: Khalil Mack Reminds It's 'Win Now' For The Bears

Mack has been a disruptive force on the field early in training camp.

Jeff Joniak
July 30, 2019 - 4:46 pm
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BOURBONNAIS (WBBM Newsradio) -- The Bears were back at it for their fifth practice of training camp Tuesday. Here's a roundup of observations and notes of the day.

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-- Bears coach Matt Nagy admits every kick in this camp matters. They're keeping charts and taking notes in the compeition between Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry. On Tuesday, Pineiro went 6-of-8 on his attempts. One miss hit the upright inside of 40 yards, while the other was wide right from around 48 yards.

-- When it comes to groin and hamstring injuries, being cautious is critical. Early camp muscle pulls have sidelined rookie receivers Riley Ridley and Emanuel Hall. Ridley pulled his hamstring in the first practice, and Hall is recovering from sports hernia surgery, slowly being worked back into the mix after dealing with some tightness.

-- After two days in pads, the Bears whipped through about 60 plays and about 10 minutes of special teams work Tuesday before an off day Wednesday. Linebacker Khalil Mack, linebacker Danny Trevathan, cornerback Prince Amukamara and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks were given veteran days off. 

-- Tight end Adam Shaheen remains sidelined with a sore back, which is leading to more opportunity for fourth-year tight end Ben Braunecker, who looks like a different player this season. Braunecker received first-team reps along with Bradley Sowell and Ian Bunting. Sowell is making the transition from tackle and caught a few balls in the light practice. Bunting is a 6-foot-6, 249-pound undrafted rookie out of California who is a Hinsdale native.

-- This is life in the NFL: safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has never missed a game in his first five seasons with , but on the final snap of Chicago's offseason program in June, he suffered a knee sprain. It set him back a bit, as he has been sidelined for the last six weeks or so. On Tuesday, the Bears activated him off the physically-unable-to-perofrm list, but they will still take precautions to get him ready for the season opener on Sept. 5.

-- I asked safety Eddie Jackson after practice about being ranked No. 30 on the Bears' top-100 player list. I got the feeling he thinks it’s nice but also might feel it’s a little low. I reminded him there are only 32 teams, so being No. 30 is impressive. Clinton-Dix said Jackson isn’t satisfied nor excited about it. Jackson is hungry and not comfortable. He wants to be better. 

-- Mack took the podium for the first time since camp opened last week. He was reminded that his 2016 Raiders went 12-4 before the Texans knocked them out of the playoffs in the wild-card round. The next season, they bottomed out and changed coaches, with the struggles eventually leading to his trade to the Bears. Mack remembered well. "You run out of time, you got to win," Mack said. "You got to win now."

-- One of the most underrated aspects of team chemistry is the relationship between players and their position coaches. They spend the most time with each other. Ted Monachino is Mack’s outside linebacker coach, and the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year likes what he sees. "He’s worked with some of the best in the league," Mack said. "He understands who you are as a player ... He gives you different tools that you can use and it’s been very helpful so far."

-- WBBM Bears Radio analyst Tom Thayer gave his daily practice ball to Hicks on Tuesday, even though he didn’t practice. It’s more of a first-week practice ball for his overall performance, leadership and how disruptive he’s been to the offense. Thayer said the ball could have easily been awarded to Mack, and that might be the case every day of practice.

-- Former Hinsdale Central high school teammates Bunting and receiver Thomas Ives from Colgate are getting a lot of good snaps after one week. They figure to get good game reps once the preseason schedule opens. It's a great rookie story for training camp. Rams center Brian Allen, who starred at Michigan State, also played with Bunting and Ives at Hinsdale Central for coach Rich Tarka.

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