LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Seeing a game from outside the lines is a lot different inside. Naturally, Khalil Mack wanted no part of the former.
But for the first time in his still young yet successful career, that’s where the linebacker was the last two weeks. A lingering ankle injury from the Dolphins game put him there, ending a 70-game streak of appearing in the lineup for the Raiders or the Bears.
Forced into this unique vantage point did give him a chance to check out his teammates in action, first against the Jets at Soldier Field then Sunday against the Bills. Naturally, he was asked which player stood out to him the most now that he had this unique view of the contest.
“It’s too many people to point out,” said Mack, who then proceeded to name nearly everyone who saw a snap the past two weeks.
“Everybody was ballin’. That’s what you want to see.”
Indeed that was the case. They held the Jets to just ten points in a yeoman’s effort in the victory over New York in which they allowed just ten points. Against Nathan Peterman and the Bills, the Bears’ defense teed off, picking up four sacks along with four turnovers in a 41-9 win.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you all, man, these guys; I was excited to come here and play with these guys, just knowing that they have the talent. Even without me, that’s a helluva thing. I’m excited to be a part of it this weekend, get ready for Detroit.”
Now Mack will get to join them again, with his ankle healed and three full practices under his belt as the Bears face the Lions to open the second half of the season.
“It was real tough for me, knowing the type of person I am,” said Mack. “I’m just excited to get out there this week.”
With two weeks to rest, Mack hopes to get a streak going again like he had to start his Bears’ tenure. He had a strip sack in his first four games – one of three in NFL history to have such a streak – and was the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Month for September.
Following the ankle injury in the first half against the Dolphins, Mack failed to register a sack again, and was dropped into coverage more than he rushed the passer in a loss to the Patriots.
“It’s football. I’ve been doing this five years now – rushing and dropping,” said Mack when asked about his high number of coverage plays against New England. “It’s nothing too difficult.”
At least he’ll be back on the field, doing so for the first time after an injury. He’s had two games to be a spectator and the Bears hope it’s the last time this season he’ll have to do that.
Good news is that he’ll face a Lions’ offensive line that allowed ten sacks a week ago – giving Mack a shot to return to his old self at Soldier Field.
“When I got out there, I’m gonna be myself,” said Mack as he returns to the lineup this Sunday.
If he is, maybe the Bears will find themselves in the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.