Saints activate stars; Bears rule out Roquan Smith, Darnell Mooney
The Saints activated running back Alvin Kamara from the reserve/COVID-19 list and Michael Thomas from injured reserve.
The Saints, as expected, activated three former Pro Bowl players Saturday for the wild-card game Sunday in New Orleans, while the Bears revealed they’ll be without two of their best young talents.
The Saints took star running back Alvin Kamara off the reserve/COVID-19 list 10 days after he tested positive for the coronavirus. They removed wide receiver Michael Thomas, who last year set the NFL record for receptions in a season, from injured reserve after he recovered from an ankle injury. Return standout Deonte Harris came off IR after the same three-week absence; he was dealing with a neck problem.
The Bears, meanwhile, will be without inside linebacker Roquan Smith, their best defensive player, and rookie wide receiver Darnell Mooney. Although neither practiced all week, the Bears called them questionable Friday only to downgrade them the next day.
Mooney injured his ankle in the fourth quarter against the Packers. Smith, who was named a second-team All-Pro, suffered a grisly left elbow injury in the first quarter.
“There’s complete domination in the way [Smith is] playing,” coach Matt Nagy said last week. “He’s playing on another level. So when you lose that, that’s part of football.”
The Bears will miss Smith’s sideline-to-sideline speed when defending against Kamara, who had 96 receiving yards and 67 rushing yards in their first meeting Nov. 1. Kamara hasn’t practiced since testing positive on the heels of his six-touchdown performance Christmas Day against the Vikings.
“You’re talking about a guy that has a lot of different intangibles to his game and more strengths than weaknesses,” outside linebacker Khalil Mack said. “It’s going to be a challenge to make sure [Kamara] doesn’t affect the game the way he has been all year.”
The Saints have had quarterback Drew Brees on the field with Kamara and Thomas for only 10 quarters this season.
For depth at inside linebacker, the Bears promoted Manti Te’o, the former Notre Dame star, off the practice squad. Te’o played for the Saints from 2017 to 2019 but figures to back up Josh Woods, who is questionable with toe and glute injuries, or Joel Iyiegbuniwe.
Marqui Christian, a safety and special-teamer, will be on the Bears’ active roster, too.
The Saints also added cornerback Patrick Robinson, linebacker Chase Hansen and wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey to the active roster. Guard Nick Easton, who was ruled out Friday with a concussion, was put on IR.