Unsettled or Simply Unreported Bears DB Spot

Defensive coordinator Sean Desai refuses to reveal a winner for a starting spot at one of the key spots in the defensive secondary
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Just when the starting Bears lineup seemed set after the release of their depth chart, defensive coordinator Sean Desai cast a little uncertainty on the situation.

The issue was who would be starting slot cornerback.

Duke Shelley has played it all camp and preseason with starters and finished last year as starter after Buster Skrine's season-ending concussion. He did have competition from Marqui Christian at camp. 

However, the Bears cut Christian once before bringing him back to the roster. 

If a player was cut, then it's likely the other player was the starter. 

Perhaps, perhaps not. 

When asked who the starter at slot cornerback was on Wednesday, Desai had a surprise answer.

"We'll see in short time who's gonna play that," Desai said.

Unless it's Christian or a surprise entry, such as Artie Burns or DeAndre Houston-Carson, it's difficult to see how the Bears would not start Shelley.

Desai was a little more definitive when talking about the importance of the position.

"I mean, you guys run the numbers—78% of the snaps in the league are nickel," Desai said. "Nickel is a critical position, not just versus Sean McVay's offense but versus every offense.

"At the end of the year, when you run the numbers, you're playing about 70% nickel snaps, so that position's a starter on your team and so it's a critical position, as it is for our defense and every other defense in the league. It's gonna be important. We like the competition that we've built there and we like the guys that we'll be marching out there with on Sunday."

The secondary overall is perceived as a Bears weak spot with second-year cornerback Kindle Vildor manning the starting spot on the left side. The backups are Artie Burns, who was cut and brought back and was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Xavier Crawford, who was cut in Houston.

Desai said he has confidence in the young defensive backs, although not necessarily individually.

"The confidence is in the process," he said. "They've been out there with us for the last four months, from OTAs into training camp, and they’ve gotten a lot of reps.

"They're learning and growing every day in terms of what we want out of those positions, so I think the good thing about being young in this league is sometimes your memory is short, too, so they're gonna go out there and compete and give us the best of their abilities."

Second-year starter Jaylon Johnson is starting again at right cornerback.

"He's growing every day as a leader in that (cornerback) room," Desai said. "He's a younger player, but he's approaching the game and his daily business every day in the right mindset, and I think people see that.

"His peers see that, the older guys see that, the other guys in that room that are leaders in the room see that. He's trying to carve out his own niche to be a leader in that room and he’s doing that."

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