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Mack ecstatic to rejoin dominant Bears defense


Khalil Mack loves watching football, but he enjoys playing it even more.

After cheering on his Bears teammates while sidelined with an ankle injury the last two games, Mack practiced without restrictions all week and isn't even listed on the injury report for Sunday's contest against the Lions.

"It was real tough for me, knowing the type of person that I am," the All-Pro outside linebacker said Friday at Halas Hall. "But I'm excited to get out there this week."

Mack, who was named the NFC defensive player of the month for September, rejoins a dominant defense that excelled without him. The unit yielded just 207 yards and one red-zone possession in a 24-10 win over the Jets and then generated four takeaways, two touchdowns and four sacks in a 41-9 drubbing of the Bills.

"That's what I'm trying to tell y'all," Mack said. "I'm excited to come here and play with these guys, knowing that they have the talent that they have. Even without me, it's a hell of a thing. I'm excited to be a part of the party this week and get ready for Detroit."

Mack was the life of the party in his first four games, recording five sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception that he returned for a touchdown in leading the Bears to a 3-1 start.

The 2016 NFL defensive player of the year then injured his ankle Oct. 14 against the Dolphins. He finished that game and played the next week versus the Patriots but wasn't as effective. Mack then sat out back-to-back contests against the Jets and Bills.

"We know what we've got here and just understanding the situation, it was better for the team," Mack said. "So, I bit my tongue and sat back and listened instead of trying to do too much in the situation. It is what it is now. We've got two [straight] wins and we're trying to make it three."

Mack enjoyed watching his teammates produce big plays in the two games he missed. TV cameras captured him jumping up and down while celebrating with Leonard Floyd after Floyd returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown last Sunday in Buffalo.

"I'm always excited when you get into the end zone for a defensive guy," Mack said. "That's not something that you do often, so you can't take those situations for granted."

Mack, for the record, has scored two career touchdowns, both on interception returns. The first was a six-yarder in 2016 when he played for the Raiders and the second came in his first game with the Bears, a 27-yarder in the season opener against the Packers.

The Bears enter Week 10 ranked second in the NFL with 21 takeaways, a plus-10 turnover margin and 14 interceptions and tied for second with 11 forced fumbles.

"I feel like the defining pride of this defense is just understanding situational football and understanding that we have to get the ball back in our offense's hands, no matter the situation," Mack said. "When you talk about getting turnovers, that's been huge for us."