Even though all signs point to Chicago Bears star pass-rusher Khalil Mack playing against the New England Patriots this afternoon, his work load is in question:
ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets the Bears aren’t sure how many snaps Mack will be available for against the Patriots. Even if we had an idea of what Mack’s work load would look like, there is still the issue of how effective he could be and for how long.
Mack played 62 of 78 snaps in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins, most of which came after he suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter. He didn’t pick up a sack, quarterback hit, or tackle-for-loss as the Dolphins did a number on Mack with their blocking scheme, who wasn’t himself while playing on a taped ankle.
The Bears played it safe with Mack during this week’s practices, keeping him off the field until Friday when they limited his participation. These precautionary measured could go a long way toward getting the most out of Mack on game day. But because we won’t know how Mack’s injury will hold up until the game gets started, it could be a day for Leonard Floyd, Aaron Lynch, and even Isaiah Irving to contribute to the pass rush.
Mack has picked up five sacks and four forced fumbles to start his Bears career. But as we saw last week, Chicago’s defense isn’t the same when he isn’t at full strength. The Bears will have to make due with what they have at their disposal.
On the other side of the ball, there is cautious optimism that wide receiver Allen Robinson will play:
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports that Robinson is a game-time decision, but his ESPN counterpart Schefter seems a bit more confident the Bears’ second-leading receiver will play.
Robinson will go through his normal routine before the team makes a decision on its inactives. If Robinson can crack the lineup, he’ll figure to play a key role in the Bears’ offense on Sunday. The Patriots secondary just allowed a three-touchdown game to Tyreek Hill and gave up six touchdowns to No. 1 or No. 2 receiving options in the first three weeks.
It sounds like two of the Bears’ biggest offseason acquisitions will play, and that’s great news for a team who had ample injury concerns coming into the day. But how effective they’ll be after injury shortened practice weeks won’t be known until the game gets underway. And even though the suspense will last for just the next few hours, it’s already starting to get to me.