Third-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson is one of the three building blocks the Bears have on their roster. Tuesday, though, he was running with the second-team defense.
“I wouldn’t read into that right now,” coach Matt Eberflus said after OTA practice. “He’s just getting back into action right now. So we’re just seeing where he is with his conditioning and those types of things. But 1s and 2s, we’re moving all guys around.”
Johnson playing with second-stringers sounds like it’s more about short-term motivation than any threat to his starting job.
Johnson did not practice during the team’s voluntary minicamp last month. When asked about Johnson a week ago, Eberflus seemed to reference as much, saying he wanted to see him up-close first.
The coach watched him during OTAs the past week.
“I like what I see,” he said Tuesday. “I mean, he’s moving around really good. His change of direction is nice. He’s got really good hands. As you know, he’s got good size. So now just really looking at his coverage ability — and it’s in a good spot. …
“So we’re just working with him, and, again, trying assess his skills. And we’ll coach him as we go.”
Defensive backs coach James Rowe said Johnson has “no doubt” met the standard the Bears demand in practices.
“I think he is on a good path right now, you know,” he said. “The thing that I probably like most about him so far is how intelligent of a football player he is. …
“Then, obviously, you have a new system. So just learning our system and the way we want guys to practice and how we want things done. He is doing a good job of taking ownership of that. I’m looking forward to see him excel in the system.”
Bears coaches haven’t hesitated to heap praise on rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon. Last week, Eberflus said the second-round pick had been “lighting it up.” Tuesday, Rowe said Gordon has unique short-area movement skills. In fact, Rowe couldn’t think of anyone he’s coached who could match it. The closest might be Colts cornerback Kenny Moore, who made the Pro Bowl last year.
“Obviously (Gordon) has good ball skills,” Rowe said. “And he finds himself in good position enough to be able to look back and locate the quarterback — and locate the ball — to put himself in those positions.”
This and that
- For the second time in as many weeks, outside linebacker Robert Quinn and defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad were absent from the OTA practice open to the media. Eberflus said he expects both to be in attendance when mandatory minicamp begins next month — but then added it was his “hope.”
- Like Eberflus has done, linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi refused to say whether Roquan Smith would play weak-side linebacker or middle linebacker when the season begins. Nicholas Morrow would play the other spot. Borgonzi said the two positions were “interchangeable.” Colts star Darius Leonard played the weak side, and that seems to be Smith’s likely landing spot.