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Bears players give Khalil Mack a warm welcome


One day after his introductory press conference, new Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack met all of his new teammates and coaches Monday at Halas Hall.

"In the middle of my talk, I welcomed him to our team," said coach Matt Nagy. "The guys, they all did a little clap. You could just sense obviously that they're excited."

The Bears acquired Mack, a three-time Pro Bowler and 2016 NFL defensive player of the year, in a blockbuster trade with the Raiders on Saturday. The two-time All-Pro flew to Chicago Saturday night, met the media Sunday and practiced with the Bears Monday.

It was Mack's first time working out with an NFL team since last December. Seeking a contract extension with the Raiders, he did not participate in Oakland's offseason program, training camp or preseason games.  

"Khalil is great," Nagy said. "Khalil is a true professional. The last 24 hours, seeing him in here, diving into the playbook, how hungry he is, how motivated. He's been away from football now for a little while, been away from putting on the cleats, putting on pads, putting on a helmet, the little things that we all take for granted."

Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr. saw the same characteristics from Mack in Monday's practice that the veteran offensive lineman has studied on film.

"You turn on the tape [or] you see him live, it's not going to change," Leno said. "You see what type of player he is, you see what type of impact he can make. He has every tool you need to be a great pass rusher: speed, power, length, athleticism, all of it."

"He's explosive," said defensive end Akiem Hicks. "I watch guys' stances; if they're taking a false step or they're rocking a little bit. But he's just off the ball, straight power through the ground and up field getting sacks. It's nice to have such a prolific rusher outside of me. He's done it for a number of years and to have him bring his talents to Chicago is pretty awesome."

Mack joins the Bears after recording 40.5 sacks in his first four NFL seasons with the Raiders, including 36.5 over the past three years, the second most in the league during that span.

"We know what he's going to bring to the table," said right guard Kyle Long. "I've had an opportunity to play him. He's a guy that I know doesn't take plays off and he works his butt off. To have that work ethic coupled with his talent level, special things happen."

"Everyone that has anything to do with this organization is extremely excited," added cornerback Prince Amukamara. "Just watching him today at practice flying around, being the first one to touch the ball and stuff like that, seeing his effort, we're all just excited."

Amukamara raised some eyebrows a few months ago when he said he was aiming to record 10 interceptions this year. He referenced that statement Monday, joking that with Mack's addition "those 10 picks are looking a little bit more promising." Turning serious, Amukamara did acknowledge that "the clock in the quarterback's head is I'm sure going to be a lot shorter."

To Bears players, the bold move enforced how committed the franchise is to winning.

"It really just shows that management, this organization, we're going for it," Amukamara said. "You've got to appreciate the type of management and organization that are aggressive like this."

"[It's] what they've been preaching to us this whole time," Leno said. "We're trying to win. We're trying to win games here [and] change the culture of this organization."

Nagy is a huge part of that, and like everyone else in the building, the first-year coach is thrilled that the Bears were able to land such a talented player in Mack.

"It's been very exciting," Nagy said. "Probably the time I think about it the most is when I'm in my car driving home. That's really when you can just get away from everybody and everything and you can just kind of sit back and realize where you're at.

"Collectively, it's everybody. It's an exciting situation for us as a team, as a city, as an organization. Our players are trying to learn who he is right now. That's the best part. He's going to be learning all their names and faces. Everybody on our team is excited that Khalil Mack is a Chicago Bear, trust me."