LAKE FOREST – Cole Kmet scored the Bears final touchdown of the 2022 regular season.
After blocking Vikings defense end D.J. Wonnum, he leaked out in the flat and caught a pass from Nathan Peterman. He immediately went up field, absorbed a hit and used his left arm to keep him from hitting the ground before crossing the ball over the goal line.
The former second-round pick finished the season with 50 receptions, 544 yards and seven touchdown catches – a new career high.
When general manager Ryan Poles was asked on Tuesday about potential blue-chip players on this current Bears roster, the general manager had one player in mind.
“Yeah, I mean, the one that stands out to me this year, I was just proud of and that spent time with him, talking about it, but I thought Cole did a really good job,” Poles said. “I thought he elevated his game from the film that I watched last year to what it was this year, so that’s exciting. I mean, that’s one that comes to mind right now.”
Poles also noticed as the season went along that Justin Fields had success with the players he had the most chemistry with, and that’s why Poles believed “Cole had a helluva year.”
With a team that will experience plenty of turnover in 2023, Kmet provides some consistency for Fields and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy as the trio head into their second full season together.
After the Bears lost to the Vikings, 29-13, in the 2022 season finale, David Montgomery and his family stood on the Bermuda grass at Soldier Field.
The 2019 third-round pick soaked in the moment after his fourth season with the Bears came to an end. The 25-year-old running back finished the season with 201 attempts, 801 yards and five touchdowns – which were all career lows. But he was a part of a backfield that helped the Bears end the season with the most rushing yards in the NFL (3,014).
And now the former Iowa State Cyclone will be a free agent in 2023.
“I would love to be here,” Montgomery said on Monday when asked what his future holds.
For Poles, he has strong feelings about Montgomery, but knows there are no guarantees when it comes to formalizing a contract that both sides can agree on.
“I’ve always wanted to keep David,” Poles said. “I love his mentality, how he plays the game. I told him that to his face. He’s part of the identity that we had this year that kept us competitive. Now, the second part of that is just the contract situation. That’s something that we’ll see how that goes and if we can find common ground. Obviously, I’ve learned that you can want a player and the value’s got to come together for it to happen. I love the way he attacked this season. That’s a guy that does everything right. You all watched his tenacity, his fight. I’m a big David Montgomery fan.”
Poles let out an audible “F-bomb” when he saw Darnell Mooney laying on the ground in pain at MetLife Stadium.
Mooney injured his ankle in the 31-10 loss to the Jets and went on season-ending IR. The third-year player out of Tulane finished the season with 40 catches, 493 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games.
The former fifth-round draft pick left a lasting impression on Poles in their first season together.
“I love him more than I did when I first walked in the door,” Poles said. “I think he’s a special human being, first and foremost, and a really good football player.”
Poles also provided an update on Mooney’s health moving forward.
“I don’t know if I have the specific details,” Poles said. “I know he’s doing really well. Everything’s positive. He’s headed in the right direction. He’s in rehabbing a bunch. So he’s in good spirits. He’s a guy, too, that in adversity he’s a guy that says it is what it is, I’m going to control what I can control and you know I’m going to come back just as good if not better than I was before. So everything’s positive.”
Matt Ebeflus also added that Mooney could potentially return some time in the spring depending on how the rehab goes.