September 5, 2018 / 8:17 PM / 15 days ago

Mack debut looms large over Bears-Packers

Chicago Bears: Two players with potential to bring the biggest impact to the Bears’ defense have limited reps with the first team.

Dec 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) strip sacks Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) in the end zone in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Linebacker Khalil Mack, acquired from the Oakland Raiders eight days before the opener at Green Bay, is expected to play in certain packages, coach Matt Nagy indicated.

Rookie first-round pick Roquan Smith has “a good chance” of being on the field, but might also get work in only certain packages until he’s fully up to speed.

“Whether it’s him playing all the game or whether it’s playing in packages, our coaches will balance that out and they’ll know where he fits within the scheme and what he does best. It’ll probably be a game-by-game thing,” Nagy said.

Aug 30, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia during the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions: First-time head coach Matt Patricia entered his initial “Regular Season Wednesday” hoping to complete installation of his gameplan for the New York Jets. Patricia said the Jets are “very familiar” after his run as Patriots defensive coordinator.

One area of the offense jumped off the film for Patricia besides the “stretch and cut” running game is rookie quarterback Sam Darnold’s effectiveness rolling out.

“They can get (Darnold) out either way,” Patricia said. “He’s real effective rolling out to his left and his right — that’s unusual. To be as effective as he is to both sides complements the run game better.”

Green Bay Packers: If the offensive line was not a concern entering the season, seeing the Chicago Bears acquire outside linebacker Khalil Mack on Saturday hit the Packers like a punch in the heart.

Injuries decimated the front five during training camp.

Aug 29, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks on during the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce Welcome Back Packers Luncheon at Lambeau Field. Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin via USA TODAY NETWORK

To prepare for the potential matchup with Mack, who didn’t participate in on-field workouts all offseason with the Oakland Raiders, the Packers spent part of Sunday reviewing film of the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

“Excellent addition,” coach Mike McCarthy said of Mack. As for protecting Aaron Rodgers from a defense with the potential to put three top-10 picks on the field at linebacker (Mack, Leonard Floyd and Roquan Smith), McCarthy said, “Hopefully, the good Lord has touched us, and we have our injury phase out of the way.”

Minnesota Vikings: Head coach Mike Zimmer has developed several players who developed first on special teams, including wide receiver Adam Thielen and safety Andrew Sendejo.

New rules designed to make kickoffs safer are in place, but Zimmer has his doubts players can be protected from high-speed collisions. “I don’t think it will (be safer).

Just one man’s opinion,” Zimmer said, adding that eliminating the kickoff is not a great option.

“I don’t foresee that either. I think they’ll keep tweaking it and try and figure out a way to do it. I hope it’s safer. Guys are still running back and guys are running forward, they get back there and hitting guys full speed ... I don’t care if they start at the 40-yard line or 30-yard line.”

—Field Level Media

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