Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack humbly shared the credit for being named to the Associated Press’ All-Pro first team for the third time in four years Friday by tacitly acknowledging that joining a top-10 defense has benefitted him as much as he has been a boon for it.
‘‘It means a lot,’’ Mack said of the All-Pro honor. ‘‘It speaks volumes to the guys around here . . . coach Vic [Fangio], coach [Brandon] Staley and my teammates, as well. Everybody has a hand in that. Usually see it on the field, and you see it on Sundays. That’s what it’s really all about.’’
Mack was one of four Bears named first-team All-Pro. He was joined by safety Eddie Jackson, cornerback Kyle Fuller and punt returner Tarik Cohen, all of whom made the team for the first time.
Jackson, a fourth-round draft pick in 2017, had six interceptions during the regular season, including touchdown returns of 27 yards against the Vikings and 41 yards against the Lions. He also returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown against the Bills.
Fuller, a first-round draft pick by then-general manager Phil Emery in 2014, had seven interceptions and broke up 21 passes this season.
Cohen, a fourth-round draft pick in 2017, averaged 12.5 yards on punt returns, the fourth-best in the NFL.
The Bears and Chiefs tied for the most first-team All-Pros. It was the first time the Bears have had a player receive any All-Pro recognition since 2014, when guard Kyle Long was named to the second team. And it was the first time they have had a first-team All-Pro since 2012, when cornerback Charles Tillman and receiver Brandon Marshall made it.
The last time the Bears had four first-team All-Pros was in 2006, when linebacker Brian Urlacher, center Olin Kreutz, kick returner Devin Hester and kicker Robbie Gould made it. The Bears reached the Super Bowl that season.
Though Mack has made the All-Pro first team twice before — and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 — this honor still has special significance. He missed all of training camp and the preseason with the Raiders, then was traded to the Bears a week before the regular season began. Except for three rookies, Mack was the only position player on either All-Pro team who was playing with a new team.
Seven days after joining the Bears, Mack made an immediate impact in the season opener against the Packers with a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception return for a touchdown. He had five sacks
and four forced fumbles in his first four games.
Despite being hampered for two games and missing two others with an ankle injury, Mack still finished with 12½ sacks, 11 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, four passes broken up and one interception.
‘‘I knew I wanted to come in and make an impact,’’ Mack said. ‘‘I wanted to be a leader — not just vocally but with my actions. Ultimately, you want to win, and that’s all I care about. We’re winning, but to win in the playoffs would be another step. I’m looking forward to it.’’
Mack’s only playoff appearance before this season was with the Raiders in 2016. They lost 27-14 to the Texans on the road.
‘‘[Winning] is all a part of your legacy,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s what you want to be remembered for — being a champion. That’s what you live for. You live for these types of moments. You live for these types of games.’’