ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Bears will not play outside linebacker Khalil Mack (ankle) and wide receiver Allen Robinson (groin) for the second consecutive week, giving two of the team’s most important players another game off to nurse their respective injuries with an eye on a critical three-game stretch against the NFC North looming this month.
Both players were announced as inactive prior to Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, along with injured defensive lineman Bilal Nichols (knee) and tight end Ben Braunecker (concussion). The Bears’ other inactives: Wide receiver Kevin White, cornerback Marcus Cooper and offensive lineman Rashaad Coward. White, for the first time in his career, was a healthy scratch.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio admitted last week the Bears could’ve benefitted from letting Mack rest sooner than he did, though a significant factor in making him inactive against the New York Jets and now Bills was seeing him give it a shot against the New England Patriots.
“To his credit, he tried to play with it,” Fangio said. “Some people would say we were wrong to play him after he got hurt early in Miami in that game, and then wrong to play him the next game. But there’s another lens to look at that. A lot of people think players don’t play through injuries, etc., and this guy is saying he can go.
“… I prefer to look at it through the lens that this guy is trying to fight through and play, and he’s not letting an injury take him out. In hindsight, should we have taken him out earlier? Probably. But a guy says he can go, he can go, and we’ve got to see it.”
The Bears’ defense suffocated the Jets last week without Mack despite only recording one sack and no interceptions. The Bears were a top-10 defense without Mack in 2017, after all, a point made by a few people around Soldier Field and Halas Hall last week.
“Our level of overall play, obviously, when you add a player of his caliber into it is going to be better but there’s still no reason for other guys to not play to the best of their abilities,” Fangio said. “I just don’t get the point everybody makes on that, admitting that we’d better off with him, I’m not saying that. But it shouldn’t affect the other 10 guys on how they play.”
The Bears’ offense, while not its best self against the Jets, was able to sustain not having Robinson in scoring 24 points.
While the Bears likely would’ve decided to play Mack and/or Robinson if both were 100 percent healthy, they still have a talent advantage over the 2-6 Bills without both players. The point being: The Bears should be able to win without Mack and Robinson, and then hope both are at or as close as possible to 100 percent when the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings come to Soldier Field in Weeks 10 and 11.