Bears coach Matt Nagy is “hoping” two of his biggest defensive stars — outside linebacker Khalil Mack and safety Eddie Jackson — will be back Sunday against the Ravens.
Mack has been out two games because of a sprained foot, and Jackson has been out since hurting his hamstring on the second play against the 49ers. He was inactive against the Steelers.
Both players got an extra week to recover because of the bye, but neither was on the field during the part of practice open to the media Monday.
Nagy gave no real indication of either players’ chance of playing this week or even practicing when the team resumes Wednesday, but the initial thought on Mack was that he could be back against the Ravens.
He already was playing through the injury and had six sacks in the first six games. Also, the Bears eschewed the option to put him on injured reserve with optimism that he would not need to sit three games.
Mack is second on the team in sacks to Robert Quinn (6œ) and has 19 tackles and a fumble recovery. Jackson has 40 tackles and a forced fumble.
The Bears also opened the three-week practice window for safety Deon Bush, who has been on injured reserve since hurting his quad muscle Oct. 17 against the Packers.
Third-string quarterback Nick Foles, who was out for a personal reason and an illness leading up to the Steelers game, was at practice Monday.
The Bears had a substantial list of questions for the NFL about the officiating in their 29-27 loss to the Steelers, and that led to a “lengthy conversation” between Nagy and the league. He seemed mostly satisfied with the responses.
NFL Network reported that members of the officiating department identified three missed calls by referee Tony Corrente and his crew. They should not have penalized right guard James Daniels for a low block (he didn’t actually hit the player he intended to block) that nullified a Justin Fields touchdown pass. They also should have flagged the Steelers for a late hit on Fields in the third quarter. The Steelers also had at least two players commit a neutral-zone infraction on Cairo Santos’ 65-yard missed field goal at the end.
“It was good to be able to talk to them and just listen to where they’re at,” Nagy said. “I do appreciate their honesty going through it. And now what I need to do as a coach is go through it with our guys and just explain how things went and then also understand the rules.”
With the Bears sitting at 3-6, most of the discussion the rest of the season will be about building toward success in 2022 and beyond. But it’s unlikely any of the players view the final eight games through that lens.
Instead, they’re still eying the playoffs — no matter how unrealistic that appears.
“We have a lot in front of us,” wide receiver Darnell Mooney said. “[Finishing] 11-6 sounds really, really good. We can do it. There’s nothing in front of us that we can’t handle.”