Bears Who Are Poised to Prove They're Prime-Time Players

Monday night offers a chance for three Bears in particular to benefit from the national spotlight against a good opponent with big plays and strong games
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All NFL players know Monday Night Football offers a chance to make a statement.

"I mean, it's always exciting to be on Monday night and then your prime time, you know, the only football game being played," wide receiver Allen Robinson said.

Unlike on Sunday night when most NFL teams have just finished playing and are either flying home or are spending the evening out after home games with their family and friends—pre-COVID-19 of course—the Monday night telecast offers that real chance to be seen by the whole league.

Everyone in the league except the participants is home on Monday night and gets to see the games. Families and friends see it. Reputation makers in the media from around the country see it as well.

Players talk all the time about getting seen on prime time and making a statement, but usually do so in terms of the their team.

It can also be a big night for individuals to put their names into the spotlight.

Devin Hester came into a Monday night appearance against the Rams for the Bears in 2006 as an exciting rookie punt returner averaging only 21 yards on kick returns, then put up two kick return touchdowns and forever was regarded as deadly dual return threat. If anyone doubted it, they found out in the Super Bowl that year.

The Bears have three players in particular who are on the precipice of something, and a big showing on Monday night can cement either a reputation or something more tangible.

3. Darnell Mooney

Jaylon Johnson had a smashing start but has tailed off in his effectiveness and Cole Kmet seems to just be getting into the flow of the offense. However, Mooney is in a position to make a real step up by bringing national attention to himself with some big downfield catches. The Bears offense is badly in need of big downfield passes, and it's unlikely Mooney will have much attention from Jalen Ramsey since that honor will go mostly to Allen Robinson. For a rookie, Mooney has been solid with 18 catches for three games and no games with less than two catches. He has played no less than 60% of the snaps in each of the last five games. The next step is a big play in prime time.

2. Roquan Smith

After a somewhat slow start, Smith has made 32 tackles including five for loss in the last three games, while also recording three passes defensed. 

He has flashed at different times in the past but consistency over three games against three good teams indicates a step up in development.

Smith needs several big plays in a nationally televised game like this to attach his name to the Bears defense along those synonymous with it like Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller, Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack.

1. Allen Robinson

Robinson hasn't been to a Pro Bowl since 2015 and last year was high on the list of players snubbed by the voters.

More important for Robinson's future than this is making a statement regarding his contract status.

From all indications, there is a gap between what he sees as his value and how the team views it.

There's no time like a national telecast to put on display for other teams to see in case he does hit free agency, or simply to let the Bears know this is what they'll be missing if they don't sign him for a bigger deal .

Considering Jalen Ramsey is likely to be covering Robinson much of the night, Robinson can cement his name alongside the game's other top receivers with a big night.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven