The battle of Bears cornerbacks angling to start in Week 1 has hit something of a snag.
Here’s the revelation from Bears DC Chuck Pagano:
Bears DC Chuck Pagano praised rookie CB Jaylon Johnson's football IQ. "Been a little bit limited because he's coming off a shoulder deal."
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) August 6, 2020
Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano told reporters that rookie Jaylon Johnson has “been a little bit limited” because of a shoulder.
A player with shoulder problems usually sets off alarms this time of year. But the Bears are still in the early portion of an eight-day build-up period. Similar to Phase 1 of a traditional offseason, players go through walk-throughs, as well as strength and conditioning sessions. Quarterbacks, receivers, and specialists are the only ones who can practice with footballs. There are no conditioning tests. And there are no practices with helmets. So, let’s keep that in mind when seeing news regarding Johnson’s limitations.
Even still … Johnson’s progress is worth monitoring. If you’ll recall, he had offseason shoulder surgery before the NFL Draft. And while his stock didn’t completely tank, Johnson – once projected to be a first-rounder – fell to the second round for a reason. Not that the Bears minded when they saw a player with first-round caliber talents fall into their lap. Moreover, Johnson is taking that slight to heart.
Johnson finds himself in a camp battle with Kevin Toliver II for the other starting cornerback job. With Fuller and Buster Skrine locked into their respective positions, the Bears are searching for Prince Amukamara’s replacement. Considering his talent, skill set, and prospect pedigree, Johnson makes sense as a long-term solution. But let’s not completely rule out Toliver in this race. Toliver has minimal starting experience, but has two years in the organization. He also has one season of playing for Pagano under his belt. That familiarity could prove to be helpful if it translates into ability.
We’re still early in this process, but I’m willing to wait before handicapping favorites to start in Week 1.