Chicago Bears

Bears want Darnell Mooney’s leadership role to continue despite being out for the season

Chicago Bears WR Darnell Mooney suffered a season-ending left ankle injury in Week 12’s loss to the New York Jets in what’s undoubtedly a crippling blow to an offense that was already struggling to make plays in the passing game. And while Mooney’s skill set on the field will be lost for the year, coach Matt Eberflus said Monday that he wants the third-year wideout to remain in a leadership role for the Bears over the final five games of 2022.

“No one puts more yards in than Darnell Mooney,” Eberflus said. “I’ll promise you that. He laps people. He doubles them up. That’s what the numbers tell me. His speed in his numbers are outstanding. He works extremely hard. What I told him yesterday was just, ‘hey, just hang in there. Things happen. Still be around. We want you to be around and be in that leadership role and helping the younger players out.’”

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The Bears hold Mooney in high regard, which is why he was a strong candidate for a contract extension this offseason. His season stats — 40 catches, 493 yards, 2 TDs — aren’t WR1 numbers, but he was a victim of a historically bad passing offense for the first two months of the year. As the offense evolved with QB Justin Fields, so too did Mooney’s numbers, which is why the timing of his injury is so disappointing.

“Obviously, it was a slow start for everybody,” Eberflus said. “Once we got going into the offense, I think he really started to shine. Outstanding at blocking the perimeter. He had a really nice connection with Justin throughout that stretch. He is our leading receiver. But more importantly, he is a great teammate. He’s a great leader.”

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