Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
We all heard that Khalil Mack was playing through an injury this year. Have the Bears disclosed what the injury was?
Mount Airy, North Carolina
Yes, the Bears limited outside linebacker Khalil Mack in practice and listed him as questionable on the weekly injury report due to issues with his ankle, back, knee and shoulder. To Mack's credit, he started all 16 games as well as the wild card contest in New Orleans. At the end-of-season press conference, general manager Ryan Pace praised Mack for playing through the pain, especially as it related to his most recent injury. Said Pace: "His shoulder, as he was on the injury report, that was real and I think we appreciate the way that he fought through that. He played through that injury and that was real."
It was very interesting to see the Saints employ the same exact gadget play the Bears ran against them a week later when New Orleans faced the Buccaneers. (Too bad it resulted in a touchdown for the Saints and a dropped pass by Javon Wims for the Bears.) Are you aware of any other plays that other teams have stolen/borrowed from the Bears?
The first copycat play that comes to my mind is a significant one that resulted in a key touchdown pass that involved two future Bears in Super Bowl LII to conclude the 2017 season. The play the Eagles executed in their 41-33 win over the Patriots—dubbed the "Philly Special," was borrowed from the Bears. Philadelphia running back Corey Clement took a direct snap, pitched the ball to tight end Trey Burton, who then threw to a wide open quarterback Nick Foles in the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown. Interestingly, the Bears ran the same exact play in the same end zone in the same stadium in Minnesota just over a year earlier. In the 2016 season finale, Bears running back Jeremy Langford took the direct snap, handed off to receiver Cameron Meredith, who then tossed a 2-yard TD pass to quarterback Matt Barkley. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Then-Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich came clean after the game, saying: "There's several different variations of that play that we've seen people run. We were, in particular, copying the Bears' version of it."
I've heard rumblings that the NFL Combine is being cancelled this year because of COVID. Other than you not getting a chance to have some of the famous St. Elmo's shrimp cocktail, what other changes are being implemented to replace the Combine?
Yes, the NFL officially cancelled the Combine earlier this week. The bottom line is that colleges will be asked to host media days for their prospects during their traditional on-campus Pro Days and all prospect interviews and psychological testing conducted by teams will be done on a virtual basis. In terms of the all-important medical exams, players will be tested at facilities near their homes. The social aspect of the Combine, which is basically a job fair for coaches and others in the industry, will not occur but will hopefully resume in 2022. As for St. Elmo's world famous shrimp cocktail and the incredibly hot sauce that accompanies it, it's going to be difficult to skip that this year. On a personal note, I was very happy to discover only a few years ago that they also offer a mild sauce, which I found out still has a bit of a kick to it.
Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.