With Amukamara and Cooper OUT on Sunday, What's the Bears Plan?

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With Amukamara and Cooper OUT on Sunday, What’s the Bears Plan?

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears had been fortunate on the injury front for the first three games of the 2018 season, but they’ll enter Week 4 facing their biggest challenge to date, and will be doing so without one of their starting cornerbacks.

Friday’s injury report lists starting cornerback Prince Amukamara and his backup, Marcus Cooper, out for Sunday. Those two join receiver Anthony Miller as being sidelined for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Amukamara and Cooper are dealing with hamstring injuries, while Miller will miss time due to a dislocated left shoulder. All three players will be missed, but perhaps none more than Amukamara, whose 82.3 grade from Pro Football Focus through three weeks is tied for the fourth best among qualifying cornerbacks.

Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune believes it could be a while before Amukamara returns, tweeting he doesn’t expect Amukamara back until mid-October. With a well-timed bye in Week 5, Amukamara could re-join the Bears in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins (October 14) at the earliest. It’s more reasonable for Amukamara to return in Week 7 against the New England Patriots or facing the New York Jets in a Week 8 home game.

Amukamara’s injury makes a tough matchup against the Buccaneers that much more difficult and leaves the Bears needing a different plan to defend Tampa Bay’s talented wide receivers. Kyle Fuller will likely get the assignment of following Mike Evans, but that leaves DeSean Jackson matching up against Amukamara’s replacement, Kevin Toliver II, on the left side of the offensive formation/right side of the defensive formation.

Undrafted free agent rookie Kevin Toliver II is a talented cornerback whose skills could be unlocked by the right defensive coaching staff.

There was a time where he looked like a can’t-miss prospect – he was a five-star recruit and a top-rated defensive back prospect coming out of high school before signing with LSU. Toliver struggled with knee injuries in Baton Rouge and was eventually buried in a loaded depth chart. But 6-2, 192-pound corners with premier prospect pedigrees don’t grow on trees. And while you never want to lose a starter, at least the Bears are going into game day rolling with a player who has high-end talent that will hopefully show itself against a talented group of receivers.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.