I’ll admit I’m typing this through gritted teeth, but the Vikings passing game presents a tough matchup for the Bears defense.
This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who saw Bears-Vikings in Week 10, when Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen carved up Chicago’s secondary. I figure the Bears will be out for payback when they suit up on Sunday in Minnesota. However, which cornerbacks will be available is a bit up-in-the-air at the moment.
We’ll need to watch this week’s injury report:
Jaylon Johnson (right shoulder) is considered day-to-day, Matt Nagy said. Buster Skrine remains in the concussion protocol. The Bears will take the practice field this evening.
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) December 16, 2020
Rookie Jaylon Johnson and fellow cornerback Buster Skrine didn’t practice on Wednesday, per the Bears’ injury report.
Johnson missed time in the second half of last week’s win against the Texans due to a shoulder injury. Head Coach Matt Nagy says Johnson is day-to-day, which is better than I would have otherwise expected. Remember that Johnson had offseason shoulder surgery on that same shoulder. Moreover, it’s worth pointing out that Johnson had three shoulder surgeries before playing a snap in the NFL. And while that injury history dropped Johnson’s draft stock last spring, the Bears would be wise to proceed with caution. Should Johnson be unable to go, Kindle Vildor appears to be the next-man-up after playing 14 snaps in Johnson’s place.
As for Skrine, he remains in concussion protocol for a second consecutive week. Skrine, who serves as Chicago’s usual nickel cornerback, sat out Sunday’s win against Houston. In his place, second-year cornerback Duke Shelley played on 80 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. Or to put it another way, Shelley stepped right into Skrine’s role and played enough snaps to make me think the Bears liked what they saw. Only Roquan Smith, Tashaun Gipson, Eddie Jackson, and Kyle Fuller played more defensive snaps than Shelley’s 53 last week. That’s not nothing.
I hope the Bears liked what they saw from their young cornerbacks. Because while jockeying for postseason position is top of mind, developing players down the stretch should also be a priority. It’s trial by fire if they’re going against Jefferson and Thielen. Then again, those two guys figure to be in the division for a while, so you might as well see who can hang when the time comes.