The Chicago Bears were already set to face a tough test when they drew the New Orleans Saints as their first-round playoff opponent. After today’s injury report, that endeavor becomes even more grueling.
This afternoon, the Bears officially ruled out Darnell Mooney and Roquan Smith for Sunday’s Wild Card game against the Saints. Linebacker Manti Te’o and Safety Marqui Christian were elevated from the practice squad as corresponding moves.
Mooney (ankle) and Smith (elbow) both sustained their injuries in last week’s loss to the Packers. Neither player participated in practice this week.
Cornerback Jaylon Johnson was also on the injury report, but the team did not provide an update on his status. The last time the Bears and Saints played, New Orleans’ star wide receiver Michael Thomas did not suit up. Thomas will be in the lineup this time around, so the Bears will need all the corner depth they can get. Johnson and fellow defensive back Kyle Fuller will be integral in limiting Thomas’s production.
In recent weeks, Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears’ offense has started to click with Mooney serving as the speedy deep threat. The rest of the receiving corps will need to elevate their play to help the Bears’ offense keep up with the high-scoring Saints’ attack.
As for the defense, Roquan Smith’s absence opened up the middle of the field for the Packers in Week 17. The injury exposed some gaping holes in the defense. With the shifty Alvin Kamara returning to the Saints’ lineup from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, there is a great deal of concern that the Bears’ defense will have their hands full.