Eddie Jackson, Darnell Mooney injuries stagger Bears

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When Bears defensive tackle Justin Jones turned around after Jets quarterback Mike White’s second-quarter completion to wide receiver Garrett Wilson, he saw safety Eddie Jackson on the ground at the Bears’ 30-yard-line, and knew the Bears were in trouble.

“I knew it was gonna be a touchdown after that,” Jones said. “He’s our safety [valve]. He’s supposed to keep everything underneath. And once he went down, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s a touchdown right there.'”

It was big trouble at the moment and even bigger trouble for the game — and perhaps beyond that. Jackson suffered a non-contact injury to his left foot, was unable to put any weight on it and was taken to the locker room on a cart. The Bears almost immediately ruled Jackson out for the game.

Jones is a staunch believer in next-man-up when players are injured. But even he recognized that losing a captain, leader and voice like Jackson is a tough hit.

“Yeah, man it is,” he said. “He’s a [bleeping] leader, man. He’s a hell of a player. I hope he’s OK. I just hope he comes back soon, because we need him on defense. We really do.”

Jackson’s injury was part of a one-two punch in a 31-10 loss to the Jets at MetLife Stadium that threatens to be a knockout blow to what was — just a week ago — a fairly promising rebuild season for general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus.

In the third quarter, wide receiver Darnell Mooney — the team’s leading receiver — left with an ankle injury and did not return. Mooney was injured when he was blocking on a David Montgomery running play and Jets safety Jordan Whitehead fell on his ankle.

“It stinks,” quarterback Trevor Siemian said. “As a player, [it’s] terrible. But if you spent any time with Darnell, he’s one of the best dudes in the locker room. That’s a part of the game that stinks. But he’s a strong dude. [It’s bad] when anybody gets hurt, but especially Darnell, it’s tough to see.”

Injuries are starting to pile up for the Bears. They started Sunday’s game without quarterback Justin Fields (separated shoulder), cornerback Kyler Gordon (concussion) and safety Jaquan Brisker (concussion). On Sunday, starting right tackle Riley Reiff left after the first series with a shoulder injury. Larry Borom, who replaced Reiff, left late in the game with an undisclosed lower-body injury.

“It’s tough,” center Sam Mustipher said. “Moon, BoJack, Larry, Riley … that’s tough. It’s a violent game. You never want to see guys you go to battle with every day go down.”

Like his teammates, Mustipher was hoping for the best. But the injuries to Jackson and Mooney in particular appear ominous.

The non-contact nature of Jackson’s injury on MetLife’s Stadium’s slit-film artificial turf could put more focus on the NFL Players’ Association’s recent criticism of artificial turf as dangerous for players. According to the NFLPA, studies show that between 2012-18, NFL players had a 28% higher rate of non-contact injuries than on grass.

“I think the injuries at this stadium kind of speak for itself,” Mustipher said. “We’ve had to play twice [at MetLife] twice this year. I think you’ve seen a few soft-tissue injuries. It’s tough. The injury rates are proven.”

Defensive end Trevis Gipson said he notices the artificial surface being less stable in certain circumstances.

“There’s certain athletic positions you get in where you feel it, like get-offs or re-directing — which is really the main things we do,” Gipson said. “Eddie’s not 300 pounds, but he’s great at changing directions, so that tells the story.”

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