Bears’ Khalil Mack, Allen Robinson practice in full, eye Sunday return vs. Lions
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Even before Bears linebacker Khalil Mack returned to practice Wednesday afternoon, cornerback Prince Amukamara had a sense that things had changed. Earlier in the day, Mack arrived on the field for the team’s walk-through.
“Man, when he came out, I’m like, ‘Yes! If he’s in walk-through, he has to be playing this week,’ ” Amukamara said. “I don’t know his status yet. But him being out on walk-through is huge for me.
‘‘I think everyone’s excited. Even to have [receiver Allen Robinson] back, if he is this week, we’re just happy that everyone’s here as a team and to finally be putting it all together.”
Mack and Robinson, who missed the Bears’ previous two games with a right ankle injury and a groin injury, respectively, participated fully in practice. Barring a setback during the week, they’re on track to play Sunday against the Lions, the first of three straight NFC North games for the Bears.
The Bears called nearly everyone in Wednesday. Defensive tackle Bilal Nichols (knee) and tight end Ben Braunecker (concussion), who missed Sunday’s game, practiced in full. So did guard Eric Kush, who’s been dealing with a neck stinger. Although wide receiver Taylor Gabriel was limited with a knee injury, coach Matt Nagy said earlier this week he expects him to play Sunday.
Only one player missed practice: tight end Dion Sims, who is still in concussion protocol.
It was a significant change from the previous two weeks, when Mack and Robinson were held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, then were limited Friday.
Mack hurt his ankle in the first half of the game against the Dolphins in Week 6 and played against the Patriots the next week before being shut down the last two games.
“I know he hasn’t missed a game in his career until the last couple of weeks, [and] you can definitely see that he’s a guy that loves football and he doesn’t enjoy being on the sidelines,” Amukamara said. “So we hope that he stays hungry and gets fed on Sunday.”
Robinson first felt the groin injury against the Dolphins. Like Mack, he started against the Patriots but was hampered, catching only one ball for four yards before missing the final three series of the game.
“He’s a leader in that wide receiver room, and our guys feel that — they know that — and he leads by example,” Nagy said. “He’s not a real vocal guy when he doesn’t have to be. So I think it’s just more of just comforting for everybody — you know, coaches included — to get him out there and see exactly where he’s at.”
Nichols, who said he missed two practices last week and then the game against the Bills for precautionary reasons, was happy to be joining the others who returned.
“It’s exciting,” Nichols said. “We haven’t all been with each other for a few weeks. So it’s going to be good to all get on that field.”
After returning from concussion protocol, Braunecker knows the stakes are high for the Bears from this point forward. And they appear to have all hands on deck.
“It’s a really important stretch, obviously, and it’s a good feeling to know we’re going to be firing on all cylinders,” Braunecker said. “You can tell by the faces of the coaches that everything’s a little more serious here this week, and that’s to be expected.”