The Chicago Bears received a ton of good news on the injury front on Wednesday, but Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio appears to be holding back the unbridled optimism until he knows more about the health of star pass-rusher Khalil Mack.
When Fangio was asked if Mack would be healthy enough to give it a full go on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, he didn’t seem to have a strong reaction.
“Not sure yet,” Fangio said. “Obviously, he’s closer than he was. He had a nice practice yesterday, but I think today’s practice will be a good indicator after pushing himself a little bit yesterday.”
Mack was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, but it was his first time practicing full throttle since before his ankle injury popped up in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins. Since then, Mack has either been limited in practice or held out altogether.
The Bears have placed Mack on the inactives list in each of their last two games, both of which have resulted in wins and excellent efforts from the Mack-less defense. Mack was believed to be at 70 percent prior to the Jets game in Week 8, so the logical next step is that two weeks off of the ankle injury should have put him in a good place to be healthy for the team’s stretch run. But because Mack has just one practice under his belt, his defensive coordinator simply isn’t ready to assume the best case scenario.
Even though Mack has been missing on the field, the time off should have given him ample time to bone up on the playbook. After all, he has only been with the Bears since September. Fangio was asked where Mack was with his knowledge of the defense at this stage of the year, which led to an interesting quip from the Bears’ DC.
“He’s not where he needs to be or where we want him to be, but he’s certainly prepared enough to go out there and play if his ankle will let him,” Fangio said.
The Bears’ defense was a top-10 unit last year without Mack and proved it could play at a high level without him the last two weeks. But having #52 on the field changes the dynamic of the defense and the game itself. We’ll be not-so-patiently waiting for the updated injury report to see if Mack was limited in any capacity.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 8, 2018