With Super Bowl expectations heavy on their minds, the Chicago Bears will begin preparations in earnest for the 2019 season this week when they report to Bourbonnais for training camp.
As the team arrives in the Chicago suburb, we’re taking a look at 10 of the players that will have the biggest impact on the Bears’ fortunes in the coming year, and today we’re focusing on linebacker Khalil Mack.
How 2018 Went for Mack:
At a certain point, the football world ran out of superlatives for Mack, who burst onto the scene with a touchdown in the Bears' first game and didn't really slow down from there.
The linebacker had 12.5 sacks, forced a career-high six fumbles, and defended four passes in 14 games for the Bears, and proved that he was worth every penny of the six-year contract the Bears gave him after acquiring him in a blockbuster preseason trade.
He accomplished all of that despite having zero training camp reps and zero preseason games to help him get used to the Bears' system, and he was without a doubt one of the league's most impactful players right out of the gate with Chicago.
The Biggest Question He’ll Face:
While several players on the Bears' defense, including Kyle Fuller and Akiem Hicks, are facing questions about how they'll fare with Vic Fangio's departure, there really isn't a similar concern with Mack. He puts up eye-popping numbers no matter the circumstances, and with a full mini-camp and training camp, he should be able to adjust to any scheme changes under Chuck Pagano.
Because of that, our only question for Mack is this: how much can he improve on last year's production? Even while being triple-teamed and extensively game-planned for, he was still able to thrive, but can he do even bigger things in 2019?
Mack will once again get at least 10 sacks, hitting that number for the fifth consecutive season, and he'll set another career high in defended passes. He'll also bump up his tackle total, as he had 47 combined tackles last season, 31 fewer than he had in his final season in Oakland.
For more on our examination of the 10 Bears players to watch this season:
7/27 - Offensive lineman Kyle Long
7/26 - Safety Eddie Jackson
7/25 - Wide receiver Anthony Miller
7/25 - Defensive end Akiem Hicks
7/24 – Cornerback Kyle Fuller
7/24 – Tight end Trey Burton