Chicago Bears are considering shutting down Khalil Mack because of his nagging left foot injury

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Chicago Bears are considering shutting down Khalil Mack because of his nagging left foot injury

A nagging left foot injury has been hindering Chicago Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack for most of October. Now the Bears are assessing whether it may be in Mack’s and the team’s best interest to shut things down for a bit.

Coach Matt Nagy declined to validate a report from the NFL Network that suggested the Bears are seriously considering placing Mack on injured reserve, a roster move that would keep Mack out of action until at least Thanksgiving.

“There have been absolutely no decisions made,” Nagy said. “We’ll just see where that all ends up.”

Nagy emphasized later that the team’s medical staff, front office and coaching staff would continue assessing Mack’s injury and his overall mental state before making a decision.

Mack has been having a bounce-back season, tallying six sacks during the team’s 3-4 start. But he landed on the injury report with his foot issue in Week 4. That was coming off the team’s 26-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Since then, including Wednesday afternoon, Mack has missed 10 of the last 13 practices while only being able to participate on a limited basis three times.

So where do the Bears go from here? If they opt to move Mack to IR, that would require him to miss at least three games, starting with Sunday’s home contest against the San Francisco 49ers. Beyond that, the Bears will sandwich their Week 10 open date between a road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 8 and a home game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 21.

Said Nagy: “Mentally and physically you go through different stages and so we’ll have those discussions. We’re not there yet.

“But … we’re at a point where it’s really good for him to get as many answers as he can get with where he is at. I really love the fact that the last couple weeks he has not practiced, but he’s been able to get out there on game day and grit it out and really put together some good games and get after it. We need that. But at the same point in time, when you are hurting, you’ve got to be able to get answers. We’re in that process right now.”

Nagy, meanwhile, remains separated from the team himself after testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday. He continues to participate in team meetings via Zoom and had a video feed of Wednesday’s practice available to him. Oddly though, Nagy would not disclose where exactly he’s working from during his quarantine.

“I’ve got a beautiful setup,” he said. “But as you can probably understand, I’m not going to get into where I’m at. But I have a great setup.”

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has taken the steering wheel in Nagy’s absence and would be the interim head coach Sunday if Nagy remains out. For whoever is at the helm, there are a lot of availability questions to sort through.

On Wednesday, the Bears welcomed rookie offensive tackle Larry Borom back to practice, designating him to return from injured reserve and opening a 21-day window to activate him to the 53-man roster. Borom has been out since spraining his ankle in a Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

It may be overly ambitious to push him back into action this weekend with very little practice time to ramp up.

“That’s one of the things that will be good for us to be able to evaluate and see where he’s at both mentally and physically,” Nagy said. “Larry has done a great job when given the opportunity to go in there and play. He’s done a really good job of showing what he can do.”

On the official injury report, Mack was the only active player who did not practice Wednesday. Three other defensive starters were limited with Akiem Hicks battling a groin injury, Tashaun Gipson recovering from a hip issue and Bilal Nichols dealing with a knee injury. Hicks and Gipson both missed Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while Nichols was ejected in the second half after throwing a punch at Bucs center Ryan Jensen.

Four other Bears – Robert Quinn, Elijah Wilkinson, Jimmy Graham and Caleb Johnson – remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Running back David Montgomery, meanwhile, is still on I.R. with a knee injury but is eligible to be designated for return at any point going forward. Nagy did not offer specifics Wednesday on Montgomery’s recovery.

“No updates,” he said.

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