Bears miss Khalil Mack: ‘I learned a lot from him’

The Bears’ trade of Khalil Mack to the Chargers caught his teammates off guard. They still don’t seem to have recovered.

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Former Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack looks on before the Ravens game in November.

The Bears traded pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Chargers last month.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears’ trade of Khalil Mack to the Chargers caught his teammates off guard.

They still don’t seem to have recovered.

“Hey, it sucks seeing one of your guys go, one of the leaders,” linebacker Roquan Smith said Wednesday. “But hey, life goes on. I know he’s gonna do well out there in L.A. You know, a healthy Mack is a damn good player, as we all know.”

The trade, agreed to in early March, netted the Bears the No. 48 overall pick in next week’s draft and a sixth-rounder in 2023. It was a tacit admission that the Bears are rebuilding.

Defensive end Trevis Gipson, who played behind Mack last year, remembers exactly where he was when he heard about the trade. He was at a friend’s house, and he thought his buddies were joking.

“So when I did see it on my phone, it was sort of like, ‘I can’t believe it’,” he said. “But at the same time, I do understand that it’s a business and things happen.”

He said he’ll miss the six-time Pro Bowl pass rusher.

“It sort of bothered me a little bit because I stole a lot of information from him,” he said. “Well, I hate to use the word ‘steal.’ But, yeah, I learned a lot from Khalil, man. He paved the way with a lot of things and showed me right from wrong. How to do certain techniques, how to carry myself as a vet in this league.” 

Both Gipson and Smith still stay in touch with Mack.

“I got a lot of respect for him,” Smith said. “I learned a lot from him. I appreciate him.”

Jackson’s back

One day after he wasn’t spotted at voluntary minicamp, safety Eddie Jackson was a participant at practice Wednesday. 

“It was good to see him out there,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “He looked quick in the drills. Looked fluid, looked real athletic. . . . I thought he caught the ball well in drills. He has a good set of hands on him. I thought his vision was good in coverage from what I saw. 

“So yeah, he looked good.”

Al-Quadin Muhammad, the defensive end whom the Bears signed to a two-year deal last month, practiced for the first time but didn’t participate in drills.

Cornerback Jaylon Johnson, third-string quarterback Nick Foles and defensive ends Robert Quinn and Mario Edwards were not in attendance for the second consecutive day. General manager Ryan Poles has said the team will try to trade Foles, who is in the final year of his contract. 

Practice evaluation

Ebeflus said quarterback Justin Fields looked good for the second day in a row.

“Much like I said [Tuesday] — good fundamentals, footwork’s improving, timing’s improving, looked good, operation was good — and same [Wednesday],” he said. “I think he took another step forward, and that’s really good for our football team.”

Fields faced the Bears’ defense for the first time; the team ran 12 plays apiece in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills inside the Walter Payton Center. 

They practiced indoors by design — Ebeflus said he wanted to test out his plan for inclement weather.

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