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Bears close to unleashing Robert Quinn-Khalil Mack pass-rushing attack

Quinn, who missed last week’s opener against the Lions because of an ankle injury, is on target to make his Bears debut Sunday against the Giants. “I believe we can be very dominant,” he said.

Robert Quinn (58, chasing down Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky last season at Soldier Field) had 11 1⁄2 sacks in 14 games for the Cowboys last season.
Robert Quinn (58, chasing down Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky last season at Soldier Field) had 11 1⁄2 sacks in 14 games for the Cowboys last season.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Robert Quinn was the centerpiece acquisition of the Bears’ offseason. Quarterback Nick Foles still had to beat out Mitch Trubisky. Tight end Jimmy Graham is good but at 33 not what he used to be. And tight end Cole Kmet is a rookie.

Quinn is in his prime at 30, coming off an 11½-sack season with the Cowboys, and signed to the most expensive contract — five years, $70 million. And he’s here to give the Bears a much-needed pass-rushing complement to Khalil Mack.

So the anticipation that Quinn will play Sunday against the Giants is pretty high after he practiced Friday. He seems mentally and physically ready to make his Bears debut. It’s a long-awaited chance for the Bears to maximize the 28-year-old Mack in his prime.

It remains to be seen how it will work out. Even high-end free-agent acquisitions in the NFL are no sure thing. Quinn is making a transition from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker.

And Quinn has been a bit of a mystery after a challenging offseason with the limitations of COVID-19. He spent most of training camp in conditioning mode after dealing with a personal issue. Then the ankle injury last week.

“I can’t predict the future,” said Quinn, who, like Mack, is listed as questionable. “But I can tell you I know how I work, how this team works and my expectations. I believe it’s gonna work. I believe we can be very dominant.

“We’ve seen what they’ve been doing the last few years. I’m just another addition. I’m just bringing my God-given abilities and trying to do whatever I can to help this defense take another step. They already had great pieces. I’m just here to join the fun.”

Mack-Quinn has the potential to be a devastating 1-2 punch, maybe the best pass-rushing duo the Bears have had since the heyday of Hall of Famers Richard Dent and Dan Hampton. The Bears have not had two players with 10 or more sacks since Dent (12½) and Trace Armstrong (11½) in 1993.

“It’s not just Khalil,” Quinn said. “I’ve been anxious to play with the whole defense. I’m definitely excited to see what I can bring — see what we can bring as a tandem, and not just us. We’re all capable of making plays.”

Nagy said Quinn “had a good week” of practice, but the decision will be made Sunday to unleash the Mack-Quinn combination against Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who led the NFL with 18 fumbles last season, losing 11.

“Anytime you have Robert Quinn on one side and Khalil Mack on the other side . . . offensively, you’ve got to know where everybody’s at now,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘You can’t just pick a side. It’s exciting. We’ll see where we go with it. But Robert had a good week.”

Though he hasn’t had anything close to a full training camp, Quinn was not concerned.

“In the offseason, I worked my tail off,” he said. “Training camp, I wasn’t able to participate a lot, but I was still conditioning. I don’t want to put words in guys’ mouths, but they said I looked in pretty good shape. Football’s football. I train myself hard enough. I’ve got the playbook down pretty well. Now it’s just getting out there with the guys, getting the chemistry on point. But so far, so good.”

As eager as Quinn is to finally play, there might be nobody happier to see him on the field than Mack.

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it,” Mack said Friday after practice. “I know he’s a special player, special talent. Not only that, he’s a great guy. I know it’s gonna be fun.”