Entering the 2022 season, Bears WR Darnell Mooney is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver for the offense. It’s a role he’s been preparing for going back to last season.
“There were days when [Allen Robinson] didn’t practice and I took that as an opportunity to let whoever was watching know,” he said via the Athletic’s Dan Pompei. “Like A-Rob’s our dude, but if anything happens to A-Rob, we’re going to be fine because I’m gonna ball out.”
Chicago’s receiving corps has been heavily criticized this offseason for being substandard compared to the rest of the NFL. Part of that is a sense that Mooney isn’t good enough to be a team’s No. 1 receiver. He broke out last season with 81 receptions for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns but the former fifth-round pick out of Tulane doesn’t look imposing getting off the bus at just 5-11 and 176 pounds. That’s the only box he says he doesn’t check, though, and coaches and teammates say Mooney plays bigger than his size.
“I can catch the jump ball,” Mooney says. “I can catch the 50-50 ball. I can catch a slant and take it to the house. I can catch a screen and take it to the house. Anything you say a receiver can do, put me in all those categories. There’s not one you could say I can’t do. I can block very well. The only thing you can say is I don’t look like a big receiver.”
“Even though he’s a smaller guy, he’s not that guy that runs out of bounds like a lot of smaller receivers,” Bears WR coach Tyke Tolbert says. “He’ll try to stick his foot in the ground, get upfield and make plays with the ball in his hand, try to break tackles. He’s not trying to save his body. He’s trying to get extra yardage.”
Packers seventh-round WR Samori Toure, the third of three receivers drafted by Green Bay this year, has already drawn praise during OTAs for his athleticism. But for Day 3 picks at wide receiver, the path to making the roster isn’t always on offense. Toure mentioned that he intends on putting “a lot of focus” on special teams next season.
“I’ve had special teams snaps throughout my career at Montana,” Toure said via PackersWire. “That’s something I can be really good at it. I’m going to put a lot of focus towards it entering the NFL.”
- ESPN’s Kevin Seifert lists Vikings OL Oli Udoh as a veteran cut candidate, noting he tied for the NFL lead in penalties last season and Minnesota brought in a number of guards to replace him.
- The Athletic’s Arif Hasan writes that although there’s been a lot made of Vikings WR Justin Jefferson playing the Cooper Kupp role under new HC Kevin O’Connell as he installs a version of the Rams offense, he still expects Jefferson to primarily play outside.
- Hasan points out the Vikings have a number of players who are best in the slot like Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn, while Jefferson has obviously been outstanding from anywhere.
- The Vikings experimented with RB Kene Nwangwu taking first-team reps this spring, per Hasan.