LAKE FOREST – Khalil Mack will miss the remainder of the 2021 season.
The Bears’ Pro Bowl pass rusher will need season-ending surgery on his foot, Bears coach Matt Nagy confirmed Friday. Mack will have surgery next week.
Nagy said the injury is related to Mack’s toe, but he wouldn’t elaborate any further.
Mack hasn’t played or practiced since the Oct. 24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s a significant blow for the Bears’ defense. Mack has been the team’s best defender since general manager Ryan Pace traded multiple first-round draft picks for him in 2018.
“I know he’s frustrated because he’s such a competitor, but this is the best thing for him and the best situation to be able to help him out and get him fixed,” Nagy said.
Mack’s foot injury first appeared on the team’s injury report Sept. 29, days after the team’s Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns. He practiced sparingly over the following weeks but gutted through the injury and played in the next four games.
Nagy said the team has no regrets about letting Mack play through the injury.
“You just get to a point where you’re trying to play and make the right decision each week for him, strictly for him,” Nagy said. “And whatever he’s able to do for himself will help us if he can play.”
Mack sat out Oct. 31 against the San Francisco 49ers and Nov. 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. At the time, the Bears opted not to place him on injured reserve in hopes that he might return in the near future.
Surgery erases any chance of that.
Mack played through several minor injuries in 2019 and 2020, never missing a game throughout either of those seasons. He proved that he can play through pain. The foot injury, however, wasn’t allowing him to do that.
In seven games this season, Mack has six sacks and a fumble recovery. His presence is felt much more on the field than the stat sheet necessarily indicates. He wreaks havoc on offenses even when he doesn’t sack the quarterback.
The Bears will need other pass rushers to step up. Outside linebackers Robert Quinn and Trevis Gipson will have to shoulder more of the burden. Quinn leads the team with 6.5 sacks on the season.
“Just get to the quarterback more,” defensive tackle Eddie Goldman said. “There’s no way you can fill his shoes, but just try to get to the quarterback as much as you can.”
The reinforcements: The Bears officially signed veteran pass rusher Bruce Irvin to the practice squad Friday.
The team also announced that inside linebacker Danny Trevathan is going on injured reserve with a knee injury. Per league rules, because this is Trevathan’s second stint on IR, he will be done for the season.
The Bears promoted outside linebacker Cassius Marsh onto the active roster from the practice squad.
Irvin, 34, joins the Bears for his 10th NFL season. He most recently played for the Seattle Seahawks in 2020, but tore his ACL in Week 2. He has not played in an NFL game since.
Irvin is a former first-round draft pick of the Seahawks. They selected him 15th overall in 2012. He won Super Bowl XLVIII with Seattle. He played three season with the Oakland Raiders from 2016-18. Then came stints with Atlanta in 2018 and Carolina in 2019 before his second stint with Seattle last year.
He has 52 career sacks, 16 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three interceptions. He recorded a career-high 8.5 sacks in 13 games with Carolina in 2019.
It’s unclear how quickly Irvin will be ready to play. He hasn’t played in more than a year and is coming off a major injury. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he remains on the practice squad at least for a little while.
“Those guys got to work out is where is he at, not just mentally understanding our defense, but also physically,” Nagy said. “He’s been out for a little while. As with any of these guys, the mental and physical side are a little bit different per guy.”