Bears to play against 49ers without linebacker Khalil Mack

National Sports

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP)Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack is off to one of the best starts of his career.

Now his season is on hold after the Bears on Friday ruled their top pass rusher out for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field.

A foot injury has plagued Mack since early in the season and the Bears will rest him in hopes of healing it. Coach Matt Nagy said no decision has been made on putting Mack on injured reserve, which leaves open the possibility he could play Nov. 8 at Pittsburgh.

”He’s a great leader,” Nagy said. ”I mean, for what he does on the field, this has been one of the fastest starts he’s had in his career production-wise. You feel it. You see it.

”He’s had a couple weeks there where he’s not been able to practice, but he’s been able to strap it up on Sunday and get out there and do a lot of great things. The want is there, but we’ve got to sometimes protect Khalil from himself and that’s kind of where we’re at right now. And continue to work through things with him, open communication and come up with a good plan as to what it is as we move forward.”

Mack has a team-high six sacks, but went without one and had just one tackle in last week’s 38-3 loss to Tampa Bay. He had sacks in five straight previous games.

The only games Mack missed with the Bears came in 2018 when he had an ankle injury and sat out consecutive wins against the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. He has played in 47 straight games.

The Bears will have outside linebacker Robert Quinn back in the lineup this week after he missed the game with Tampa Bay. Quinn was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list, along with tackle Elijah Wilkinson.

Mack will be replaced by second-year outside linebacker Trevis Gipson, who has two sacks this season.

”For Rob (Quinn), with the whole COVID ordeal, glad that he’s back healthy,” Gipson said. ”I know that Khalil’s going to be healthy and he’s working hard to do whatever that he has to do to get back, so as far as opportunity, it’s just it is what it is, it’s an opportunity.

”I have to take advantage of it and I’m going to go out there and give it my all, and try to meet the standard that those guys have set.”

The Bears also announced tackle Germain Ifedi was placed on the COVID-19 list. Ifedi was on injured reserve at the time due to a knee injury.

Defensive end Akiem Hicks, return man Jakeem Grant and safety Tashaun Gipson are all questionable for Sunday’s games. Hicks (groin) and Gipson (hip) missed last week’s game.

Hicks tried to play against Green Bay on Oct. 17, but had to leave the game. Other than brief action in that loss, one of the team’s most vital run stoppers has been out since the first play of the Oct. 3 game against Detroit when he was injured by a teammate hitting him from behind.

”Having that situation happen and then getting geared up for Green Bay week, you know, I knew I wasn’t 100%, but it’s hard not to play in that (Green Bay) game,” Hicks said. ”You know what I mean? So I had to take it out there and see what I could do. I didn’t perform how I wanted it to, but I was able to show up and play some important reps for my team. So I was happy with that.”

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