5 things on the Chicago Bears: Darnell Mooney’s injury hits hard

‘Great leader’ Darnell Mooney out for season; team stays upbeat; more

Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney (11) sits on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Season-ending injuries in sports are rough on everyone.

The news is always difficult – for the player, for the coaches and for his teammates.

With some guys, however, it just seems to hit harder.

That’s definitely the case when it comes to Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney, who won’t play again this season because of an ankle injury he suffered during a 31-10 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday at the Meadowlands.

Not only is Mooney the Bears’ leading receiver with 40 catches for 493 yards, but he does so many things behind the scenes that provide inspiration to all.

“He just brings light into the room. Just a great leader,” tight end Cole Kmet said at Halas Hall on Monday. “A dude that everyone seems to gravitate toward. So whenever you lose a guy like that in the huddle it’s definitely tough for the team.”

Mooney, who purchased a JUGS passing machine as a rookie, is always doing extra work with quarterback Justin Fields after practice. He has mentored rookies in myriad ways. He invited Chase Claypool over to his house to help his new teammate learn the playbook.

He’s also constantly surrounded by media members for extended interviews. Even after those are over, he rarely – if ever – turns away extra questions from one or two remaining reporters.

It’s easy to tell why he’s so beloved by teammates and coaches alike.

“How he approaches his day-to-day is just really special,” Kmet said.

Coach Matt Eberflus told his third-year wideout to “hang in there.”

“Things happen,” Eberflus said. “Still be around. We want you to be around and be in that leadership role and helping the younger players out.

“He’s a great Bear for sure.”

It will be interesting to see if anyone can step up and fill this void. Claypool (38 snaps) saw the most playing time Sunday and should be a significant factor going forward (assuming he’s healthy).

It’s a massive opportunity for rookie Velus Jones Jr. and N’Keal Harry as well. Jones saw 12 snaps vs. the Jets, while Harry has been inactive the past two weeks.

Other injuries

Eberflus didn’t offer much guidance on how long safety Eddie Jackson (left foot), offensive linemen Riley Reiff (shoulder) and Larry Borom (ankle) or wide receivers Claypool (leg) and Equanimeous St. Brown (undisclosed) might be out.

Jackson’s injury looks to be the most serious, with the veteran crumpling to the turf on a 54-yard TD pass to Jets WR Garrett Wilson in the second quarter.

“We don’t know yet,” Eberflus said when asked if it’s a season-ender. “If it does happen that way, we’ll have to get some young guys ready to play.”

If Reiff and/or Borom are out against the Packers on Sunday, watch for Alex Leatherwood to make his debut. The Bears claimed Leatherwood off the Raiders’ practice squad Aug. 31.

No doom and gloom

The Bears (3-9) have lost five straight and eight of nine. It’s an ugly stretch, but most players remain upbeat and positive.

We’ll let seven-year veteran DeAndre Houston-Carson explain why nobody should be shocked by that fact.

“At the end of the day, this is life. It’s bigger than football,” said Houston-Carson, who has played all 89 of his NFL games with the Bears. “When we go – when we pass – who really cares about anything other than the impact you’ve made on people around you?

“Obviously, you want to do good. You want to excel in your job. But it’s fun to be around people you love and try to build relationships. That’s fun.

“And then the game of football is fun. Win [or] lose, there’s something in there that you had a good time [with]. You hit somebody, or one of your teammates made a good play. You get to celebrate each other. That’s fun.”

Bring on Rodgers!

Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers left the Packers’ 40-33 loss to the Eagles on Sunday night with a rib injury and did not return.

With the Packers at 4-8 and on their bye after facing the Bears on Sunday, it wouldn’t be a shock to see backup Jordan Love behind center.

That should make things easier on the Bears, but Kmet would rather see Rodgers.

“Bring it on, you know?” Kmet said. “Why wouldn’t you [want to face him?] He’s the staple of their franchise, and to get an opportunity to go beat him would always be a good feeling.

Rodgers, who has thrown 21 TD passes and nine interceptions, has thrown for 250 or fewer yards in seven of the past eight games. He’s thrown double-digit INTs only twice in his career (2010 and 2008).

By the numbers

The Bears ran for 127 yards on 29 carries vs. the Jets. It was their lowest total since running for 78 in a Week 5 loss at Minnesota.

The Bears are on pace to run for 3,264 yards, which would put them 32 behind the 2019 Ravens for most all time.

Fields (834), Khalil Herbert (643) and David Montgomery (580) have accounted for 89.3% of the yards on the ground.

One other nugget: The Bears have eclipsed 200 passing yards only once all season (Week 5 when Fields threw for 208 yards in a 29-22 loss at Minnesota).