Bears blown away with Khalil Mack's offseason, see him emerging as team leader

Bears blown away with Khalil Mack's offseason, see him emerging as team leader

Bears fans – and really the NFL in general – are used to a certain level of production from Khalil Mack. As one of the league's premier pass rushers since being drafted in 2014, Mack quickly earned a reputation for his work behind the scenes, and has been gradually growing into one of the Bears' team leaders since coming over in a 2018 trade. 

2019 saw a 'dip' in production for Mack, however – it was the first time since his rookie season that he didn't get to double-digit sack numbers. Some of the more advanced stats still say that Mack is an elite pass rusher in today's NFL, but his 'down' season from a year ago apparently has him working harder than ever: 

"I just know that this has been an offseason where we've been in pretty consistent communication back and forth," OLB coach Ted Monachino said. "He's working his tail off. I know that he's found places to work out and fields for space. “Motivation is not an issue with Khalil; never has been. But what I’ll tell you is that he has approached this offseason with something to prove and that’s something that I think we all can be encouraged by. I think that that’s something that’s exciting when a player of his caliber approaches his work the way he has approached it. That’s No. 1.

"No. 2 I would say during this virtual offseason program he has done a remarkable job of starting conversation, asking questions—not only of me and coach Shuey but of the other players in the meeting. He has done an amazing job of leading them and giving them insight into what his process is. I just think that this is a special guy that has something to prove and has approached the last several months with a chip on his shoulder and I think that’s good for everybody.”

The Bears brought in Robert Quinn to help alleviate some of the pressure off Mack, but from the sounds of it, it seems like he's applying plenty of his own. A healthy, freshly-motived Khalil Mack would be a scary sight, and one Bears fans wouldn't soon forget. 

2021 NFL Draft: Top WR prospect Rashod Bateman opts out of 2020 season

2021 NFL Draft: Top WR prospect Rashod Bateman opts out of 2020 season

NFL players aren't the only ones who are choosing to opt out of the 2020 football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. College players are too, including top prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft.

First, it was Caleb Farley, the talented Virginia Tech cornerback who's projected to be a first-round pick. Now, it's Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who has a chance to be the first pass-catcher selected in next April's draft.

Bateman finished the 2019 season with 60 catches for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns and was slated to be QB Tanner Morgan's top target in a year that he would've challenged LSU's Ja'marr Chase to be the most coveted wide receiver in the country.

Bateman's decision to opt out of the season shouldn't hurt his draft stock all that much. He doesn't have a significant injury history and with more time to train for the NFL Combine and his pro day (assuming he has one), he should test exceptionally well at an estimated 6'2 and 210 pounds.

Report: NFL, NFLPA close to signing updated CBA with COVID-19 conditions

Report: NFL, NFLPA close to signing updated CBA with COVID-19 conditions

The NFL could be one step closer to returning, soon. According to Ian Rapoport, the NFL and NFLPA are close to signing their updated collective bargaining agreement for playing in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two sides agreed to a new CBA back in March but came back to the table to revise after the global pandemic hit the United States hard.

This news comes after the NFLPA player representatives voted 29-3 in favor of the changes on Friday.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

The new deal allows for 16-man practice squads, no preseason games for 2020, and high-risk and voluntary opt-outs for players. According to Tom Pelissero, high-risk players who opt out will receive a $350,000 stipend. Voluntary opt-outs for non-high-risk players will receive a $150,000 salary advance. Contracts will toll in each case, meaning it will be treated as a regular year of service time.

According to Ian Rapoport, training camp will now include a 20-day ramp-up period with no more than 14 padded practices.

In addition, Rapoport reports that rosters will need to be trimmed down to 80 players by Aug. 16, and no more than 80 people will be allowed in team buildings at a time.

"The NFL clubs and the NFL Players Association approved an agreement that broadly resolves all outstanding issues relating to the opening of training camps and start of the 2020 season," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Training camps will begin as scheduled.

"We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel. These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the NFLPA and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the CDC, and many state and local public health officials.

“The season will undoubtedly present new and additional challenges, but we are committed to playing a safe and complete 2020 season, culminating with the Super Bowl."

RELATED: Success of Bears' coronavirus 'bubble' rests on player responsibility