A decision on whether Chicago Bears star pass-rusher Khalil Mack will play probably won’t be revealed until inactives cross the wires around 10:30 a.m., so I hope you’re wearing your patient pants this morning:
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Mack will work out at Soldier Field prior to the game and test out his injured ankle. How Mack performs in pre-game workouts will ultimately determine whether if (and possibly how much) he can play. The Bears went through this last week with cornerback Bryce Callahan in testing out his ankle and things went well enough in a limited workout to allow the team’s nickel corner to play 60.9 percent of the snaps (though that was well below his season average). I expect the Bears will follow this protocol again before making a final call on Mack’s availability against the Jets.
Mack broke onto the scene and provided an immediate impact upon arrival, picking up five sacks, four quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, three tackles-for-loss, and a pick-six in his first four games. But ever since Mack’s ankle was rolled up on in Week 6 against Miami, he hasn’t been the same and the Bears’ defense has taken a collective step back at the same time.
Chicago is in a spot where it needs every available playmaker on the field and making an impact. As we explained in our most recent look at Chicago’s playoff odds, Sunday’s game against the Jets is a major swing game and a loss could torpedo the Bears’ chances at breaking their postseason drought. HOWEVER, the Bears might be wise to keep Mack off his feet with a week off and get him geared for the stretch run. That seems to be their plan with Allen Robinson, who isn’t expected to play on Sunday because of a nagging groin injury. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears make a similar decision with their star defensive player.
But because Mack has played in 70 straight games, you have to think he’ll play if he (and the team’s doctors and decision makers) feel like he can give it a quality effort. With that in mind, we’ll keep our eyes peeled to see if any news drops before the inactives are announced later this morning.