Khalil Mack

Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports

Khalil Mack injury means ferocious pass rusher won't be at full strength vs. Patriots

John Tomase
October 16, 2018 - 12:28 pm

The Patriots keep lucking out against the league's best pass rushers.

In Week 1, they faced a rusty J.J. Watt, playing his first game with the Texans in 11 months. In Week 4 they avoided Dolphins defensive end William Hayes, coming off consecutive games with a sack, because he had just blown out his knee trying to avoid that abysmal body-weight penalty. On Sunday night, Kansas City's Justin Houston -- he of 22-sack fame in 2014 -- was inactive.

And now their latest potential bullet dodged? Chicago Bears monster of the midway Khalil Mack.

The runaway leader for Defensive Player of the Year through the first third of the season, Mack injured his ankle against the Dolphins on Sunday and struggled thereafter. For the first time in five games since arriving in the one-sided trade with the Raiders that may eventually cost Jon Gruden his job, Mack failed to record a sack or force a fumble.

He still played 79 percent of Chicago's snaps after the injury, but was not a factor as Miami roared back to claim a 31-28 win in overtime. After recording 18 sacks in their first four games, the Bears didn't get to Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler once in defeat.

Bears coach Matt Nagy told reporters, including Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune, that Mack will receive more tests on his ankle and the team will know more in a couple of days.

In the meantime, it seems pretty clear that he'll be limited vs. the Patriots -- if he even plays at all -- which should help quarterback Tom Brady remain upright.

Mack has recorded five sacks and four quarterback hits while forcing four fumbles and returning an interception for a touchdown.