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Jaylon Johnson Practices with the 2s

It's not a demotion for Jaylon Johnson, explains coach Matt Eberflus, as the Bears look at Kindle Vildor and Kyler Gordon at starting cornerback spots.

Bears coach Matt Eberflus anticipates the return of Robert Quinn and Al-Quadin Muhammad for mandatory minicamp.

It is, after all, mandatory.

The Bears can only hope that this return goes a little smoother than the return of cornerback Jaylon Johnson.

Johnson missed voluntary minicamp, returned for organized team activities last week but on Tuesday was practicing with the second string behind rookie second-round pick Kyler Gordon at right cornerback.

"Yeah, I wouldn’t read into that right now," Eberflus said. "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."

Eberflus also said the position moves made in OTAs are somes done with purpose as coaches look at some specifics.

"But 1s and 2s, we're moving all guys around," Eberflus said. "We have a bunch of guys with the 1s, with the 2s, we have some 3s in there. But nothing to read into that at this time."

Or not.

The offense had both Sam Mustipher and Dakota Dozier play with the first team at right guard, but Dozier had probably a few more plays. It was the reverse last week. The only other real experimentation apparent was rookie Dominique Robinson at right defensive end, but this was because both Quinn and Muhammad are not at Halas Hall now.

"Yeah, I think it's when somebody's not here or somebody has something, you know a soft-tissue injury, that's always the next man up," Eberflus "And that gives an opportunity for those (backup) guys, too, to really do well and show what you can do when you're with the 1s.

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"You know, it's like, Dom has been with the 1s, the young kid from Miami, Redhawks, he's looked good and he's done a good job. And he understands the techniques and fundamentals. Again, it's hard to, to me, it's hard assess a couple things this time of year. Pass rush is hard to assess because it's a little bit easier for the rushers to get around because there's no pads on but once you put the pads on and those tackles can really block em, I think that's when you really assess what it is and the same thing in the running game."

As for Johnson, Eberflus backed up his comment by explaining further what he thinks of the third-year cornerback even though it was Kindle Vildor and Gordon playing with starters. Eberflus hadn't expressed much about Johnson in a positive light last week after is return, but did this time and mixed this with a little dose of honesty.

"Yeah, looking at him, like I said, last week I didn't get a chance to look at him, and now I've seen him for a week and I like what I see," Eberflus said. "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. And it's in a really good spot. So we're just working with him and again trying assess his skills and we'll coach him as we go."

Johnson might want to step it up quickly because Gordon sure is, according to linebacker Nicholas Morrow. Gordon and rookie safety Jaquan Brisker are going for the football.

"Shoot, Kyler's first day on the job he had two picks and Brisker punched the ball out as well and he punched the ball out again yesterday," Morrow said. "They do a good job of finding the football, punching it out, getting it out. They're on the game plan, they're in the right spots and they'll just get better, man.

"It's early. Still gotta get some technique and all that stuff and that'll come. It's just part of being a rookie and learning the system. But early on they getting the ball out so that's always a plus."

Tracking the Bears at OTAs

  • Cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. received an extensive look at slot cornerback in Tuesday's practice. It seemed like a good position for him last year but the Bears never got around to using him that way last season. Graham struggled at times early in practice but had more solid play in zone coverage later.
  • Fields had one of his best practices in terms of accuracy, and looked dead-on over the middle on medium-range, picture-perfect completions to wide receivers Dazz Newsome and Byron Pringle.
  • Rookie punter Trenton Gill put his leg on display during special teams work and not only was long with punts but also had extreme hang time on them. During the drill, the Bears lined up Newsome and Velus Jones to field punts. They also had Gordon back waiting to catch some but he never got the chance to field any. They had one more player back waiting to field them -- a blast from the past. Eddie Jackson was back with the younger players but like Gordon he didn't get a chance to field any. Jackson returned two punts for 6 yards in 2017 as a rookie after he was adept at this in college at Alabama.

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