A tsunami of injuries crashed at Halas Hall on Friday. The Chicago Bears must now show how equipped they are to handle this latest stream of adversity, with another season on the way.
Khalil Mack is finished for the year, formally placed on injured reserve Friday afternoon and is scheduled to undergo left foot surgery next week. That’s the biggest setback for the Bears as they push to get a four-game losing streak Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field.
“This is part of the game. You’re trying to handle things the right way,” coach Matt Nagy said. “I know he’s frustrated because he’s such a competitor. But this is the best thing for him and the best situation to be able to help him and get him sorted out.”
Still, Mack’s exit from the 2021 stage is far from the only hardship the Bears have to go through. Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks was declared out until Sunday as he is still dealing with a nagging groin injury. Recipient Allen Robinson, meanwhile, is doubtful about playing with a hoarding problem that kept him out of training all week. And veteran linebacker Danny Trevathan was also moved to IR on Friday with a knee injury.
With 3-6 and no wins since Week 5, the Bears will be tested again and their ability to adapt will prove crucial to keeping this season on track.
Mack has been dealing with a foot problem since late September, and initially played through the pain in four games in October despite minimal training time. The Bears chose to put him on the shelf in Week 8 against the San Francisco 49ers, hoping that additional free could help things and allow him to get back on the field.
But after Mack sat out the last two games and then followed up with extra downtime in the bye week, his foot injury did not show sufficient improvement. Therefore, it was decided that he should undergo surgery to remedy the injury.
Nagy was asked on Friday about the details of Mack’s injury and what the procedure next week aims to resolve, but offered only a vague answer that the problem is related to something in one of Mack’s toes.
“It’s for the doctors and all of them. It’s not for me,” Nagy said. “I just know it’s the decision we’ve made. … It’s not my job. ”
The bears signed 34-year-old edge rusher Bruce Irvin to their training team Friday and promoted Cassius Marsh to the active list, features designed to help compensate for Mack’s absence. But it remains to be seen how much Irvin can help and how fast, especially with the Bears having two games and very little training time in five days.
Irvin is in his 10th season in the league, but played only two games for the Seattle Seahawks last season before sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. That injury eventually required two surgeries, the most recent in January, and Irvin’s first football training in 14 months was Friday’s session in Lake Forest.
Nagy said Irvin made a good first impression, first with a workout on Thursday and then during his first day on the job on Friday. “I like his energy and I like his mentality,” the coach said.
But Nagy also knows that the Bears coaching staff will need to get a quick sense of where Irvin is mentally and physically. And the only way to measure it will be on the training ground.
“It’s the only place we can do that,” Nagy said. “He’s going to have to tell us how he’s feeling.”
Mack got off to a promising start to this season. He had six sacks in the seven games he played, and was a significant factor in the defense’s resurgent passing intoxication. Now the Bears will march on without him.
“There’s no way you can fill his shoes,” Eddie Goldman said. “But you just try to get to the quarterback as much as you can.”
The Bears also may not be sure when Hicks will return while struggling with his groin problem. The 32-year-old defensive lineman will miss his third game this season and his 15th in the last three years.
Robinson may also be out of action, leaving the transient attack to work through contingency plans. The other recipients on the 53-man list are Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, Damiere Byrd and returning specialist Jakeem Grant. Nagy indicated on Friday that Rodney Adams and Isaiah Coulter could be candidates for a weekend promotion to the playlist.
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