Bears veteran minicamp notes: For Justin Fields, Darnell Mooney the work is never done

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, left, talks with wide receiver Darnell Mooney, right, prior to a game against the Detroit Lions on Oct. 3, 2021 in Chicago.

LAKE FOREST – One day earlier this spring, Bears quarterback Justin Fields and receiver Darnell Mooney decided to have a little friendly competition in the weight room.

“[We were] having that competition on who’s going to stay the longest,” Fields said.

That’s the type of offseason it has been for two of the Bears’ rising young stars. Fields and Mooney created a connection last season during Fields’ rookie year. Mooney notched his first 1,000-yard season and supplanted Allen Robinson as the top receiver on the team.

But the two young stars know they still have a long way to go before their work is done. They spend a lot of time together on the field, but also a lot of time together off the field in the weight room and studying the playbook.

Outlasting each other in the weight room at Halas Hall is just another way to raise the bar.

“We came in on a Friday, and we’re just lifting and lifting, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, you can leave now. We’re done working out,’” Mooney said. “I’m like, ‘I’m not leaving, you’re leaving.’”

Mooney said Fields left the weight room for a little while, but Mooney wasn’t falling for that trick. Sure enough, Fields came strolling back a short while later. At one point, Mooney sat down and started doing some soft tissue work on the floor, trying to make Fields think he was done lifting. As soon as Fields stepped out, Mooney hit the weights again. He relished the look on Fields’ face when Fields saw him working out again.

Neither could best the other, so they did what good teammates do: They left together.

“That type of work ethic and that mindset, it’s definitely going to pay off,” Mooney said.

All eyes will be on Fields and Mooney once the season begins. The Bears have brought in an entirely new cast of receivers, and Mooney is the only significant holdover from last season. If this new Bears offense is going to work, the connection between Mooney and Fields will need to be even better than it was a year ago.

The duo spent time together during the offseason working out in Atlanta. That continued at Halas Hall once the offseason program began in April.

“Seeing how much he works, how hard he works, it’s kind of contagious,” Fields said. “So really just getting more guys around us, letting them see how hard we work. I think them seeing that will just make them want to work.”

Mooney has, not surprisingly, been Fields’ most reliable target during organized team activities and minicamp this spring. The offseason program is wrapping up this week with veteran minicamp through Thursday.

Dozier injury: Offensive guard Dakota Dozier suffered an apparent left leg injury near the end of practice Tuesday. Dozier was down on the grass for several minutes and had to be carted off the field.

The Bears signed Dozier as a free agent this spring. He has previous NFL starting experience at guard and has been splitting time at right guard with Sam Mustipher. On Tuesday, Dozier was playing left guard with the second team offense when the injury occured.

His status moving forward is unknown. Head coach Matt Eberflus said he would not comment on injuries.

Attendance: Bears pass rusher Robert Quinn was absent from minicamp Tuesday. Eberflus said Quinn’s absence was not excused. Eberflus has communicated with Quinn, but said he would leave any further actions up to general manager Ryan Poles.

Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon was present but did not participate in practice Tuesday. Gordon also missed last week’s open practice. Pass rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad was also present but not participating. Eberflus would not comment on their absences.

O-line shuffle: Rookie fifth-round draft pick Braxton Jones once again played left tackle with the first-team offense. Eberflus expects Jones to do so for the next two practices. The starting offensive line Tuesday included Jones at left tackle, Cody Whitehair at left guard, Lucas Patrick at center, Mustipher at right guard and Larry Borom at right tackle.

Teven Jenkins, a 2021 second-round pick, played right tackle with the second team and rookie Doug Kramer was the center with the second team.

Defense’s day: Cornerback Jaylon Johnson intercepted Fields during a two-minute drill Tuesday. Fields’ pass down the left sideline was intended for receiver Nsimba Webster.

Rookie safety Jaquan Brisker has stood out for his aggressiveness around the ball, particularly his efforts to punch the ball from ball carriers.

“Just to see him fly around making plays on the ball, you always like to see that, especially from a young guy,” veteran safety Eddie Jackson said.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.