2022 has been a season to forget in Chicago Bears nation. Stumbling to a 3-7 start out of the gate, the team has endured health issues and an underwhelming sophomore campaign from quarterback Justin Fields.
The latest hurdle for coach Matt Eberflus to clear will be the absence of Darnell Mooney, the team's top wide receiver.
A product of the Tulane Green Wave, the 25-year-old Mooney led Chicago in targets and receiving yards before having his season ended prematurely.
Mooney suffered the injury during Sunday's Week 12 defeat to the New York Jets. As Mooney was providing a block for running back David Montgomery, a Jets player fell on top of his ankle. The left ankle injury was serious enough to warrant surgery and an extended recovery period.
Tight end Cole Kmet, a third-year Bear, acted as team spokesman in singing Mooney's praises after the game.
"He does what he's told to do and does it at 100 percent all of the time," Kmet told ESPN's Courtney Cronin. "Those are the type of leaders that you want in the locker room and the type of guy that other guys in the locker room gravitate towards."
One would assume that fellow wideouts Chase Claypool and Equanimeous St. Brown would see their targets increase in Mooney's stead, but the pair suffered day-to-day injuries as well during Sunday's grueling matchup.
A popular and talented young member of the Bears' offensive core, Mooney will presumably return next season as the team looks to build on a disappointing 2022. Mooney is under contract for another season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2024.