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Jaylon Johnson Hoping for Another Test

The Arizona Cardinals have been without wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a month but could get him back to face the Bears and cornerback Jaylon Johnson is counting on it.

Jaylon Johnson is used to running with the big dogs.

Whether the Bears can afford to assign their top cornerback to covering Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins all over the field this Sunday is a problem they need to address.

Johnson is certainly willing, and always is.

"I'm looking forward to it," Johnson said of facing Hopkins. "It's not anything I haven't faced already. I feel like I've faced a pretty good amount of wide receiver Ones.

"At the end of the day, for me, it's just staying true to who I am, being confident in my preparation, being confident in my ability and going out there and performing the same way I have all year."

From Odell Beckham Jr., to Davante Adams, to Chris Godwin, to Deebo Samuel, the Bears have moved Johnson around to try and get him matched up on the top receivers with varying degrees of success.

Hopkins is a five-time Pro Bowl player and three-time All-Pro but the Bears might not even be able to afford to let Johnson cover him all over the field. With a new starting left cornerback in Artie Burns, and Xavier Crawford playing slot cornerback due to Duke Shelley being on IR, the Bears can't afford communication problems in the secondary. 

It can get complicated with coverage when one defender is going all around the formation.

"I mean, we're gonna see what the game plan is and what the best situation is for the defense," Johnson said. "Come Sunday, we're going to see what happens."

Johnson has done a study of Hopkins' strengths.

"I would say him tracking the ball and being very deceptive on when the ball's coming," Johnson said. "You kind of see subtle movements when the ball's really in the air to kind of get the DB off balance thinking the ball is coming somewhere where it's really not. Just little things like that that he's learned over the years. He has tremendous catch radius, being able to track the ball and make tough catches."

Film is film and Johnson looks forward to the assignment at hand.

"Just ready to see it, see what it looks like, see what it feels like," Johnson said. "It's easy to say what somebody can do on film or somebody is this or somebody is not that. At the end of the day, you gotta go out there and you gotta line up."

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Another reason Johnson not get to go against Hopkins would simply be if Hopkins doesn't play. 

He's been out for a month after a hamstring injury, and the Cardinals had last week off, so all indicators are he could play and would have quarterback Kyler Murray back throwing to him. Murray has been out three games with an ankle injury.

Both players practiced Wednesday on a limited basis.

Another reason Hopkins might not be the assignment for Johnson alone is the balance within the Cardinals passing game. The Bears might not be able to afford devoting their top pass defender to one player in the face of so many weapons.

Slot receiver Christian Kirk leads the Cardinals in catches with 49, while former Bengals receiver A.J. Green has 34 catches and Hopkins 35. Rookie big-play threat Rondale Moore has the second-most receptions for the Cardinals with 47. And they've had tight end Zach Ertz for the last five games after a trade.

The key is just keeping Murray at bay so he can't get it to all those receiver.

"I mean Kyler is Kyler," Johnson said. "I've been watching him since high school so I mean his ability to run and extend plays, he has a very strong arm. So I mean with that combination of speed and arm talent, it's very hard to guard.

"But at the end of the day everybody just has to do their job, we've got to contain him up front and then in the back end we've got to cover."

The Bears missed out on a chance to face off against Lamar Jackson due to illness, so Johnson is hoping Murray is healthy.

"Oh 100 percent! I mean I don't want any of the top guys to miss a game," Johnson said.

The same goes for Hopkins.

"So at the end of the day I'll play against whoever lines up," Johnson said.

He's been proving this week-in and week-out.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven