The Chicago Bears find themselves in an NFC Wild Card matchup against the New Orleans Saints this Sunday, that finds the Bears short of full strength.
This morning on ESPN 1000's "Kap and J. Hood", NFL Nation's Jeff Dickerson discussed the injuries the Bears are dealing with this week. One of them being speedy wide receiver Darnell Mooney, and another being linebacker Roquan Smith. Mooney suffered an ankle injury in Week 17 that is lingering and caused him to miss practice all week. As for Smith, he suffered an elbow injury early in last week's contest that kept him out for the remainder of the game, as well as practice this week.
Additionally, Buster Skrine, who was concussed in Week 13, has missed the last four games and will need to pass protocol before being able to see the field. Dickerson explained that he doubts any of these guys play this weekend. He noted that Smith's injury is more serious than Mooney's, but with speed being the young receiver's most valuable tool, he isn't sure how willing Mooney will be to give it a shot on Sunday.
With a Bears team that has seen the offense gain some traction over the last few weeks, the loss of Mooney will be noticeable. The former fifth-round pick is able to stretch the field and get a big play when needed. He has also become one of Mitchell Trubisky's favorite targets to compliment Allen Robinson, Cole Kmet, and Jimmy Graham. If the Tulane product misses Sunday's game, who will be the downfield target? The Bears can't inch their way down the field all game when they're facing a Saints offense that is as high powered, if not more, as they are.
Defensively, missing Skrine and Smith creates a void that, in Smith's case especially, is tough to replace. The former Georgia Bulldog is versatile in all schemes and can be a game changer. New Orleans will have Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara back and at full strength to aid Drew Brees in their offensive attack. While Brees may not be the same quarterback that he used to be, he is still effective in getting his playmakers the ball. These injuries add to the concerns already surrounding the defense since they've fallen below expectations this season, and will need to play at its highest level this weekend.
Furthermore, Dickerson aimed his optimism toward Jaylon Johnson, another banged up member of the defense, but the Bears reporter is hopeful the cornerback will play on Sunday. As we await the official designations from the team, we can only play this game in our heads. Perfect football seems to be the phrase going around for the Bears to possibly pull out a win on Sunday. Anything is possible, but the task is tall for the Monsters of the Midway.
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