Bears

Kevin White 'not closing any doors' to Bears return in 2015

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Kevin White 'not closing any doors' to Bears return in 2015

A frustrating year marked by a stress fracture and the accompanying rehab have not squelched the hope of rookie wide receiver Kevin White that the No. 7 pick of the 2015 draft will see the field in a Bears uniform this season.

“If I can get on the field this year and we can make a run for it, I would like to help my teammates and this organization out, as planned,” White said on Tuesday. “If not this year, then try my best and do what I can for next year.

“But [I am] not closing any doors, not saying that I’m not coming back or anything this year. There’s a chance, so do my best to try to make a comeback.”

[MORE: Bears problems at wide receiver producing 'better' Jay Cutler]

White admitted he has “a ways to go” and that he was not doing a lot beyond jogging, last week and this. But as far as moving on to thinking about next year, no. “It’s like giving up,” White scoffed. “I would never give up. There’s a chance. I would like it. Everybody else would like it. But if not, then I’ll look forward to next year.”

Rookies White, Eddie Goldman, Khari Lee, Cameron Meredith and Gannon Sinclair volunteered time on Tuesday to help with “Hometown Huddle” work at Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center, and the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center, both in Gurnee.

“It really opens your eyes to things going on around you throughout the world,” said Lee. “So it’s good to be able to do something to help out, because it’s really important.”

White was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform lost at the end of training camp. The designation allowed the Bears some latitude in assessing his progress back from the stress fracture, which occurred during the team’s offseason program.

The Bears have several weeks to activate White from reserve/PUP and until the end of Week 11 to decide on whether to activate him as part of the 53-man roster or close him out for 2015 and look forward to 2016.

[RELATED: Bears worried about 'safety of the building' in handling Jeremiah Ratliff]

GM Ryan Pace, coach John Fox and the organization have put zero pressure on White to rush back from the surgery, something not lost on the rookie.

“Even though it’s a business,” White said, shaking his head, “just to see that side of those guys, not rushing me back for selfish reasons, made me go harder, give it my all each and every day, even though I would do that for myself.

“But just to have those guys behind me, it means a lot.”

The fracture is the first significant injury and first surgery White has endured, and it was difficult for him beyond just the injury itself. White wasn’t able to walk and take care of making meals for himself immediately following surgery, so his mother Tammy stayed with him for several weeks.

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“She did a lot of the dirty work, fed me, made sure I was comfortable, made sure I was taking the pills,” White said. “Mom had a lot to do with it.”

White will need to show marked improvement over the next several weeks in order to convince the organization that a return this season makes any sense.

“Sometimes it’s tough and some days are better than others, but there’s progress,” White said. “Slow and steady wins the race so that’s what I’m going to do.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can the Bears pull off an upset at home against Tom Brady and the Patriots?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can the Bears pull off an upset at home against Tom Brady and the Patriots?

Chris Emma, Matt Zahn and Gabe Ramirez join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh joins the panel to discuss the Bulls’ terrible defensive performance as well as Zach LaVine’s impressive season debut.

11:35- Khalil Mack is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Can the Bears pull off the upset against Tom Brady?

23:50- NBC Sports Boston Patriots insider Tom E. Curran joins Kap to talk about how New England views the Bears and discuss how Matt Nagy’s team can exploit the Patriots’ weaknesses.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below.

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Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears in line to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack participated in the Bears’ final practice of the week on Friday, clearing the way for the edge rusher to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Friday that the Bears expected Mack, who hasn’t missed a game in his career, to play after suffering an ankle injury early in Week 6’s 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Mack is officially questionable for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. 

Mack had little interest in discussing his ankle with the media on Friday, passing on answering questions about his readiness for New England. Coach Matt Nagy, though, said he thought Mack “looked pretty good” during practice on Friday. 

Mack didn’t record a sack against Miami and was held to just one pressure, per Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins’ gameplan was to commit plenty of resources to stopping Mack, but he wasn’t effective even when he had one-on-one pass rushing opportunities as the game went on. 

“He was (affected),” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “I can't put a percentage on it, but he definitely was.”

Having Mack available — even if he’s not full strength — will be critical for the Bears’ defense to have a chance at keeping Tom Brady from lighting up the scoreboard. The key for the Bears will be to generate pressure on the 41-year-old quarterback without blitzing, which is something Fangio’s defense was successful at prior to Sunday’s wacky loss to the Dolphins. 

Brady’s passer rating is 138.4 when he’s blitzed, per Pro Football Focus, while when under pressure his rating is 87.2. That’s still pretty good, but it’s worth noting that all of the six interceptions he’s thrown this year have come when he hasn’t been blitzed. And only one of the eight sacks he’s taken has come when he’s been blitzed. 

The point being: If the Bears feel like they have to start blitzing to generate pressure, they can expect Brady to pick them apart.  

“You could say all of that but ultimately (Brady’s) a gamer,” Mack said. “He’s going to take those hits, and you gotta be able to deliver them but also have coverage over the top. It’s going to be real important for us.” 

The good news for the Bears, perhaps, is that New England’s tackles have struggled at times this year. Left tackle Trent Brown has allowed 17 pressures in 234 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus (about one in every 14 snaps). And starting right tackle Marcus Cannon is out with a concussion, giving way for backup La’Adrian Waddle, who’s allowed eight pressures in 78 pass blocking snaps (about one in every 10). 

So the opportunities will be there for Mack, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks and the Bears’ pass rush to affect Brady on Sunday.

A bigger injury concern?

While cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) was a full participant in Friday’s practice and will play Sunday, slot corner Bryce Callahan suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice and did not participate Friday. He’s officially questionable for Sunday. 

Callahan “did his ankle,” Nagy said, toward the end of Thursday’s practice, and he felt worse as the day went on. Nagy characterized Callahan’s absence from Friday’s practice as “precautionary.”

Callahan’s availability may be more of a pressing concern than Mack’s, given how well the Patriots’ offense has played since slot receiver Julian Edelman returned from a four-game suspension to begin the season. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping (11 catches on 16 targets, 111 yards, 1 TD), New England’s offense has scored 38 and 43 points in his two games back. 

“Brady has always had a guy in the slot that he’s comfortable with; whether it be (Wes) Welker, (Danny) Amendola or Edelman,” Fangio said. “It’s a big part of their offense. They haven’t missed a beat, but I really think it’s helped their offense and played a big part in them basically averaging 40 points in the last three weeks. I really appreciate and respect how good of a player he is and has been.”

If Callahan isn’t available, Sherrick McManis could be the next man up at slot corner.