Outside linebacker Khalil Mack is heading back to where he played his college ball. But will he play Sunday?
The Bears listed Mack as questionable after he returned to practice on Friday but was limited for a third consecutive week. Wide receiver Allen Robinson and rookie defensive tackle Bilal Nichols are questionable, too.
Coach Matt Nagy didn’t say whether Mack would play. But he conceded that playing in suburban Buffalo could be a motivator for Mack (right ankle).
“I would think — for all of us, don’t you think?” Nagy said. “If we were in that situation, it would [be], naturally. That’s where you’re at. So I wouldn’t fault him for that.”
Mack — whose little brother, Ledarius, is a backup defensive end at his alma mater, Buffalo — wouldn’t answer questions about his injury or whether he was closer to playing this week than he was when he missed his first NFL game Sunday against the Jets.
“It’s always cool to go back to where you played in college,” he said. “Being that I have a lot of friends and people out there, my little brother out there representing for the Mack name. Just real special when you get to go back to your old stomping grounds.”
Watching from the sideline gave Mack a “real uneasy feeling” last week, he said.
“I felt like a coach,” Mack said. “I just wanted to do what I could as far as helping guys understand what was going to happen early and get the best feedback I could and be a great teammate.”
Robinson agreed with Mack’s assertion, saying that “being sidelined is probably the worst thing in sports.” He said he knew by the middle of last week that he wouldn’t play against the Jets. He’s recovering from a groin injury that flared up against the Dolphins.
Robinson was evasive when asked if he’d play. His answer about his recovery timeline — “For me, my main focus is getting to 100 percent” — would make playing somewhat surprising.
“That’s up to the coaches again,” Robinson said. “It’s all day-to-day. We’ve been in good communication, just continuing to try to get me healthy and just really seeing where I’m at.”
Nichols missed his second consecutive practice with a knee injury. Nagy originally described him being limited Wednesday as precautionary. On Friday, he said Nichols was hurting from Sunday’s game and “an over-usage type deal.”
Nagy said Mack, Robinson and Nichols will fly with the team Saturday.
As expected, the Bears ruled out guard Kyle Long (foot) and tight end Ben Braunecker (concussion).
Eric Kush, who could start in Long’s place, was taken off the injury report after participating in full Friday. He has been battling a neck stinger for weeks.