Packers notes: Surprise, disappointment over Khalil Mack deal
GREEN BAY - Randall Cobb was scrolling through Twitter while lying in bed Saturday morning when he saw the disappointing news.
It was no secret within the Green Bay Packers' locker room that the front office was trying to acquire edge rusher Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders. When the Chicago Bears instead made the trade for Mack, Packers fans weren’t the only ones surprised.
“I thought he was coming here,” Cobb said. “I thought I was going to wake up and find out we got him. Some things happen, and obviously he ended up in Chicago. That’s part of it. That’s part of the business.”
Cobb’s reaction to seeing Mack traded to the Bears?
“Dang, man,” he said. “Gotta see him twice a year now.”
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Cobb wasn’t the only one disappointed to see Mack, one of the NFL’s top pass rushers, join a division rival. On the day he was traded, fellow Packers receiver Davante Adams tweeted: “Huh?? Chicago? I thought ...”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers declined to share his thoughts on the trade, but suggested Mack makes the Packers-Bears rivalry more interesting.
“That’s a really good player in his prime,” Rodgers said. “They obviously gave up some picks, but it just adds to the rivalry now that we get to see him twice a year.”
With an opening opponent that’s been a bitter rival for decades, you'd think the Packers would have a good handle on what to expect from the Bears.
Most years, that would be true. This is not most years. Especially on one side of the ball.
When the Packers host the Bears on Sunday night at Lambeau Field, they’ll face a new coach in Matt Nagy. While Nagy retained Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio after being hired, giving the Packers an idea of their defensive scheme, he installed a new offense in Chicago after being the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator the past two years.
“This is a unique opener,” said Mike McCarthy, a stranger to no one as he enters his 13th season as the Packers' coach.
Part of that is because the Bears' defensive personnel drastically changed when they traded for Khalil. But the Packers also are left to somewhat guess what they’ll see from the Bears' offense.
It’s not uncommon for opponents to have plays early in the season they haven’t shown on film. McCarthy knows the Bears could have more of those plays than usual because of their new offense.
“If you stay true to the statistics and the history of how the first games of the season are played,” McCarthy said, “there’s going to be an operation of 35 percent or maybe even plus, with the uniqueness of our opponent, of unscouted looks. So that’s what we’ve been preparing for, and I think it will probably hold true come Sunday night.”
The Packers' initial injury report of the 2018 season was released Wednesday, and they probably couldn’t have expected a cleaner bill of health.
Inside linebackers Oren Burks (shoulder) and James Crawford (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday, though they were limited. Safety Josh Jones (ankle) was the only player who did not practice.
How much Burks participates in Thursday’s padded practice will be the real indicator for whether he might be available Sunday night against the Bears. But less than two weeks after dislocating his shoulder during pregame warm-ups before an exhibition in Oakland, his presence on the practice field Wednesday was encouraging.
So far, the Packers have avoided major injury. Their most significant injuries to date have been receiver Jake Kumerow, who was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, and tackle Kyle Murphy, who was waived injured because of an ankle injury.