Load Management: Bears Are Limiting Khalil Mack's Practice Reps

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Load Management: Bears Are Limiting Khalil Mack’s Practice Reps

Chicago Bears

Load management isn’t something I expected to write about here at BN Bears.

But here we are.

For those who are unfamiliar, the term load management is a basketball idiom that has become popular in recent years. The concept is to limit a star player’s regular-season work-load. Thus, ensuring a fresher and healthier athlete for games of consequence down the road. For instance, think of minutes restrictions and healthy scratches as examples of load management.

Well, like I said, I didn’t think I’d write about load management in a summer without preseason games. However, it’s the first thing that came to mind when I saw this:

Bears Radio sideline reporter/WSCR 670-AM contributor Mark Grote tweets the Bears are “managing” Khalil Mack’s practice reps. Why? “Because they can.”

Ugh. What a dad answer. 🙄

Beyond that, Chicago has ample reason to give Mack the Kawhi Leonard treatment and manage his load this summer. For starters, Mack is good. Ridiculously good. We have an idea of what we’ll get from Mack when he puts on the uniform. And because Mack proved he can wreck opponents without participating in an offseason program, I don’t really mind this. If you do, then maybe check out Mack’s work in 2018 when he arrived just before the start of the regular season. That debut alone was all I needed to see.

With that in mind, there is just one reason to rest Mack. And that’s to properly evaluate the wave of edge defenders behind him before September’s cut-down deadline.

In case you missed our pass-rusher preview, here’s a list of players the Bears currently have in camp who are behind Mack and Robert Quinn on the depth chart:

•   Isaiah Irving
•   Barkevious Mingo
•   Trevis Gipson
•   Ledarius Mack
•   Keandre Jones
•   James Vaughters

The Bears have at least six players vying for various roles in the hierarchy of edge defenders. Irving and Mingo should likely feel safe. Mingo has a unique prospect pedigree and ample (not to mention necessary) special teams experience. Irving has also grown into a core special teams contributor, but also has experience (albeit, minimal) in the defense. Gipson is a virtual lock for a roster spot after Chicago drafted him last spring. But his role could depend on how he develops as a raw, developmental pass-rusher.

This leaves UDFA rookies (Mack and Jones) as players the Bears figure to be keeping a close eye on. I’m not sure either makes the season-opening roster. But both could find their way to the practice squad with a strong showing this summer. And because there isn’t a ton of tape on either, Chicago has incentive to give them extra reps.

Depth is going to be important in 2020. Don’t get me wrong. Star-power wins. But having a strong back-end of the roster shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.