Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney will go on injured reserve and miss the rest of the season after Jets safety Jordan Whitehead fell into his left ankle Sunday.
“He’s likely to have surgery and he’ll be done for the season,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “It’s unfortunate.”
That’s a big blow to an offense with few established playmakers, and it’s especially unfortunate timing for Mooney with the possibility of a contract extension ahead of him in the offseason. Next season marks the end of his rookie deal.
Mooney leads the Bears with 40 catches for 493 yards and two touchdowns. Among wide receivers, Equanimeous St. Brown is next in catches at 14.
“He’s been doing a great job,” Eberflus said. “It was a slow start for everybody, [but] once we got going into the offense, he really started to shine. Outstanding at blocking the perimeter. He had a really nice connection with Justin [Fields] throughout that stretch.
“But more importantly he is a great teammate. He’s a great leader. No one puts more yards in than Darnell Mooney [based on GPS tracking], I’ll promise you that. He laps people. He doubles them up. His speed in his numbers are outstanding. He works extremely hard.
“What I told him yesterday was, ‘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.’ He’s a great Bear for sure.”
Mooney, 25, has been a gem for the Bears since drafting him in the fifth round out of Tulane in 2020. He quickly assumed a key role in the offense as a rookie and followed with a breakout season of 81 catches, 1,055 yards and four touchdowns last season.
He was the 25th wide receiver picked in that draft, but ranks fifth in his class in receptions (182), sixth in yards receiving (2,179) and seventh in touchdown catches (10).