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Quick Hits: Speedy Mooney is off to a fast start


Bears rookie receiver Darnell Mooney has impressed coaches with his maturity and ability throughout the first week of training camp.

"Darnell's done a really good job at soaking up his role, and I think with him, he's a kid that you don't see any change any day," said coach Matt Nagy. "He practices the same way that he plays, whether it's a rapid practice with coach [Mike] Furrey or whether it's a full rep in a team period 7-on-7."

The Bears traded up to select Mooney in the fifth round of this year's draft. He was a four-year starter at Tulane, where he caught 151 passes for 2,529 yards and 19 touchdowns in 49 games. The 5-11, 177-pounder had a breakout junior season in 2018, catching 48 passes for 993 yards and eight TDs. He followed with 45 receptions for 670 yards and five touchdowns last year.

Mooney brings blazing speed to the Bears. He ran a 4.38 in the 40 at the NFL Combine, which tied for the fifth fastest time among all prospects.

The 22-year-old is also proving to be a quick study. Nagy told reporters Friday that Mooney reminds him of veteran receiver Allen Robinson in meetings, which is high praise for any player, let alone a rookie.

"He asks really good questions," Nagy said. "He's very calm, cool, collected. I just like where he's at. He seems very mature for his age and where he's at. He's soaking it up and listening to 'ARob' and those young guys and Ted Ginn, and I really like where he's at right now."

A good mix: Although it's still early in training camp, the Bears appear to have significantly improved at the tight end position, with offseason additions Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet and Demetrius Harris all producing impact plays in practice.

"It's a good mix right now," Nagy said. "That group of tight ends, from top to bottom, I really think that that tight end room is a strength of ours right now. We like that. That's very important in this offense. You have to have tight ends. And so, right now, the way that they're developing at the pace that we want to evaluate them, they're picking this offense up pretty well and they're making plays."

All three tight ends possess excellent size: Graham is 6-7 and 260 pounds, Kmet is 6-6 and 258 pounds and Harris is 6-7 and 258 pounds.

"You look at these guys, they're all 6-5, 6-6, 6-7," Nagy said. "That's an extremely friendly target to the quarterback."

Good day: Speaking of quarterbacks, Nagy was pleased with how Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles performed in Friday's non-contact practice, especially in one key aspect of the game.

"I thought both quarterbacks, their decision-making, they were making quicker decisions today," Nagy said. "[I'm going to] go back and watch the tape and see the timing with the wide receivers and everything. [But] today it felt like a pretty good day."

Nagy evaluates the quarterbacks on their footwork and how it meshes with the timing of pass routes. The coach also focuses on how Trubisky and Foles fare with their progressions versus the pass coverage the defense is playing.

Nagy knows that it's difficult for those not affiliated with the Bears to judge how well the quarterbacks are executing in practice.

"You just don't know where the ball is supposed to go or where the play design is for," Nagy said. "You just see a throw to somebody and you think, 'Maybe that's who that's supposed to go to or maybe it's not.' Without watching every play [with the coaches], you're just never going to know that. But they're doing good with their progressions."

Injury report: Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks sat out Friday's practice with a quad injury, but it doesn't appear to be too much of a concern.

"We're just kind of keeping him out right now," Nagy said. "We're kind of turning it into some of these vet days. We're getting close [to the start of the season], so it kind of falls into that. We don't want to make anything worse than what it is."

Linebacker Josh Woods also missed Friday's practice with a groin injury, while rookie tight end Darion Clark is headed to injured reserve after hurting his shoulder in Thursday's workout. Clark, who signed with the Bears in January, did not play college football. Instead, the 6-7, 220-pounder played basketball at Charlotte and USC.

Get well soon: Nagy opened his press conference Friday by sending warm wishes to former Bears player and assistant coach Ron Rivera. Entering his first season as Washington's coach, Rivera announced Thursday that he has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer that is considered treatable and curable.

"I want to start off first by letting coach Ron Rivera know that he's in our thoughts and prayers, along with his family," Nagy said. "We're all here in Chicago thinking about him and wish him the best and we're in his corner."

Rivera intends to continue coaching while he receives treatment.

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