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Sack Leader Gone for the Year

Khalil Mack is having foot surgery next week, thereby ending his 2021 season.

This one carried the impact of a knockout punch for the Bears defense.

They'll try to get off the canvas with eight games to play, but it won't be easy.

Outside linebacker Khalil Mack went on injured reserve Friday due to the foot injury plaguing him since Week 3 and the team also put inside linebacker Danny Trevathan on injured reserve due to a knee injury. Mack is having surgery next week according to coach Matt Nagy. 

"His (pain) is getting into his toe so, you know, it's part of the foot," Nagy said. "It's stuff that he's been dealing with and we've been for weeks. He's trying to get through it. This is, through him and our doctors and everybody else, this is part of the game. You try to handle things the right way. 

"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."

Without Mack's all-around skills and brilliance, the Bears will be leaning on Trevis Gipson and Cassius Marsh in the pass rush to assist outside linebacker Robert Quinn.  The pass rush is sure to lose its bite and the rush has been holding up a shaky pass defense all year. They have not had an interception since Week 5. 

Mack has six sacks. With his absence and the injury problems of Akeim Hicks, the Bears have dropped from No. 1 in sacks to tied for eighth with 25.

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Hicks has been ruled out for Sunday's game with Baltimore due to an ankle injury suffered against Pittsburgh. Nagy doesn't think it's serious enough to put Hicks on injured reserve.

"I think he is battling hard," Nagy said. "And again, when these guys have an injury where it forces them to either miss practice or miss a game they're more frustrated than anybody. It's a part of life, it's a part of the NFL, it's a part of sports in general."

There is no doubt the loss of Mack impacts their whole defense. He is one of their better run defenders in addition to being the best pass rusher. Against the pass, Robert Quinn now can expect more double teams as he has already begun to see the last few weeks.

Nose tackle Eddie Goldman calls it a case where more effort is the only answer.

"Just get to the quarterback more," 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 Bears could have one more pass rusher available Sunday. They officially signed Bruce Irvin to their practice squad to take Marsh's place, and Nagy couldn't rule out Irvin being flexed for the Ravens game to help out coordinator Sean Desai's struggling group. Irvin had a torn ACL last year in Week 2 with Carolina and the Bears must determine how ready he is to play.

"That's probably the biggest thing that Sean and those guys gotta 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, and to each their own."

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