Receiver Darnell Mooney felt a different sense of appreciation for the start of his fourth NFL season after an ankle injury caused him to miss the Bears' last five games in 2022. Mooney was excited to be on the field with his teammates and showcase his playmaking abilities, which were highlighted with a 20-yard touchdown catch Sunday.
"It was good," Mooney said. "I was happy. Happy to be able to move around. Happy to play with my guys and just happy to be out there. I've been on the couch, in the bed, just watching my teammates. So it feels really good to be out there with those guys for sure."
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Bears quarterback Justin Fields targeted Mooney seven times, which tied for a team-high with tight end Cole Kmet and rookie running back Darnell Mooney. Mooney also recorded a leading 53 receiving yards on four catches.
With his first game back since Nov. 27, 2022 under his belt, Mooney has turned toward the Bears' Week 2 matchup against Tampa Bay. Sunday's contest will mark the third time Mooney has faced the Buccaneers in his four-year career. The veteran receiver expects an aggressive Tampa Bay defense and knows the Bears offense has to "be ready and understand what's going on."
"The ball is gonna come out faster whether it's a deep ball or a hot read," Mooney said. "Just have to have a good reaction on it. So just be aware of all things, whether it's the corners, the nickels or the safeties, they're all gonna blitz for sure."
Jackson sees 'everybody on the right page'
While Sunday's loss struck a nerve in the Bears locker room, safety Eddie Jackson saw the group attack their preparation this week and operate with a positive mindset.
"It's a huge week for us," Jackson said. "Our minds are in the right place. All y'all know what that game meant. Especially for it to be the Week 1 matchup and trying to turn this thing around. So it's about how we attack the week. Is your mind in the right spot to overcome that? And what are we going to do this week? Everyone is on, locked in and we know what we have to go out and do Sunday."
Jackson is eager to "see what we're made of" as the Bears prepare to rebound from last Sunday and take on Tampa Bay, who beat the Vikings in Minneapolis 20-17 last week.
"Everyone is going to write us off," Jackson said. "Right now, we're trying to build something and we're not listening to all the outside noise. We know what we've got in here. We know that Week 1, that wasn't us at all."
Scott makes splash on special teams
Rookie receiver Tyler Scott earned the kick return job for the Bears in Week 1 and averaged 21 yards per return Sunday. Special teams coordinator Richard Hightower said Scott "did a good job for the first time out," noting how Green Bay boasted a "good coverage unit."
While Scott got the nod for the season opener, Hightower said the kick return position will continue to be "a week-to-week decision."
Hightower felt comfortable about putting Scott back to return last Sunday as the rookie receiver "proved himself in the preseason." In the Bears' final preseason game against the Bills, the fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati broke free for a 56-yard kick return.
"Tyler just works at it," Hightower said. "He works at it. He works at his craft, he wants to get better, his attention to detail is outstanding. And we are going to continue to develop him and Velus [Jones Jr.] in that role. So, we will work with those guys and anybody else who is up. Like I always say guys, whoever has a helmet, and we think can help us win, we will put back there with no hesitation."
Scott also saw some playing time at receiver against the Packers, taking 13 offensive snaps and recording two receptions on two targets for 14 yards.
Hightower has been working with Scott since May following the NFL Draft and has noticed the receiver possesses a special work ethic as a young player.
"Obviously, we all have things we've gotta work on," Hightower said, "so I won't say he came in and automatically he got everything and never is challenged or anything like that - he definitely is. The difference with him is you see his intent and he does pick up things a lot quicker than most rookies that I've dealt with in my career. He's trending in the right direction."
The Bears listed three players on the injury report Thursday. Cornerback Josh Blackwell (hamstring) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (rest) did not practice. Blackwell was a limited participant in practice Wednesday.
Linebacker Dylan Cole (hamstring), who was limited Wednesday, practiced in full Thursday.
Cornerback Kyler Gordon (hand), who was listed on the injury report Wednesday, was placed on injured reserve, sidelining him for at least four games. The 2022 second-round pick will be eligible to return to action Sunday, Oct. 15 against the Vikings at Soldier Field.