The Chicago Bears will not have Roquan Smith or Darnell Mooney for their Wild Card matchup with the New Orleans Saints. Tough blow for Matt Nagy’s team.
Smith enjoyed a breakout season for the Bears as the former first round pick out of Georgia played out of his mind this year, being named a Second-Team All-Pro. He left the season finale vs. the Green Bay Packers with an elbow injury in the first quarter and missed practice all week.
He was second in the NFL in solo tackles (96) and tackles-for-loss (18) and seventh in tackles with 139, a career-high and team-best. Manti Te’o may be activated from the practice squad to take his place on the roster.
Bears will be severely short-handed vs. the Saints
“He’s playing at a dominant level,” Nagy said. “He’s not just playing like a good player or a great player; there’s complete domination in the way he’s playing. He’s playing on another level.“Whoever the next guy up that has to step up and go in there and do their thing [is], it’s our job as coaches to know and see that and work around that and work to that player’s strengths. And you can’t say that that player is Roquan, because they’re not, so you’ve got to work to that player’s strengths. Then it’s the other 10 players around that have to be able to do the same thing.”
Mooney also missed practice all week with an ankle injury. The fifth-round pick out of Tulane has been a revelation this season for an offense devoid of many big-play threats. His absence will put more responsibility on Allen Robinson in the passing game and Anthony Miller will see more snaps with Mooney sidelined. His 61 catches were the most ever by a Bears rookie and second to Robinson for the team lead. His 631 yards were also second on the team.
The Bears downgraded Darnell Mooney and Roquan Smith to OUT for Sunday’s game.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) January 9, 2021
The Bears are also likely to be without rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson who is listed as questionable but has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury. Nickel back Buster Skrine will also be out for another game after missing the previous four with a concussion.
Meanwhile, the Saints are getting back Michael Thomas from injury and Alvin Kamara who missed the regular-season finale due to COVID.