Bears notes: Darnell Mooney leading the way at WR, heading toward breakout season

Plus, a look at the tight ends’ minimal production in the passing game and a penalty to which coach Matt Nagy believes he overreacted.

SHARE Bears notes: Darnell Mooney leading the way at WR, heading toward breakout season

Mooney had 125 yards on five catches against the Lions on Sunday.

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Receiver Darnell Mooney’s breakout season is on, and he seems to be fitting perfectly with rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

Fields connected with Mooney on a 64-yard pass in the Bears’ 24-14 victory Sunday against the Lions, as Mooney rolled up a career-high 125 yards on five catches.

The Bears thought they had found a future star when they drafted Mooney last year in the fifth round at No. 173 overall — 25th among wide receivers — and they appear to have been correct. He leads the team with 17 catches for 226 yards, accounting for 37% of the passing offense.

‘‘The other part of this, too, with Mooney, go watch how much blocking he did,’’ coach Matt Nagy said Monday. ‘‘A lot of people forget about the other stuff. He did that [Sunday], and he’s growing.’’

That’s a particularly meaningful compliment, given that Mooney is the lightest player on the roster at 173 pounds.

Mooney’s emergence last season as a gifted athlete and a player who works and studies like fellow receiver Allen Robinson allowed the Bears to reshape their receiver room and trade Anthony Miller. Mooney had 61 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns last season and won the team’s Brian Piccolo Award for being the rookie who best exemplified Piccolo’s ‘‘courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor.’’

Tight ends quiet

For all the money and draft picks the Bears have sunk into tight ends lately, they’re still waiting for a big payoff in the passing game.

That position group got three targets Sunday, all to Cole Kmet, and has totaled 70 yards on nine catches. The Bears essentially are paying $10 million for Jimmy Graham this season (though they spread that over the next four years by restructuring), and he has one catch for 11 yards. Kmet has the rest of the production.

‘‘We have a lot of good playmakers on this offense, so sometimes, whether it’s play design or just unlucky that they didn’t get it, there haven’t been a lot of targets,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘Now, the tight ends I thought did a good job [Sunday] of really saying, ‘We’re gonna get after it in the run game a little bit, and we’re gonna be a big part of it.’ ’’

Nonetheless, it must be a disappointment that the tight ends have gotten only 18 of the Bears’ 100 targets.

Tough call

Nagy was upset with the officials when special-teams player Xavier Crawford drew a 15-yard penalty for interfering with Lions punt returner Kalif Raymond midway through the third quarter, but he said Monday he understood the call. The flag moved the Lions to the Bears’ 44-yard line to begin the drive, and they scored a touchdown six plays later.

While it looked egregious in real time, it was not so clear on replay that Crawford hit Raymond early. It was a judgment call as to whether he timed it perfectly or hit him a moment too soon.

‘‘You get emotional,’’ Nagy said of his on-field reaction. ‘‘That’s a big play. But it’s easy for us to look at it on TV and see it in slow motion. Those referees have a tough time. Sometimes [it’s] bang-bang like that.’’

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