Third man out: Two bat­tle for CB spot

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY PA­TRICK FIN­LEY, STAFF RE­PORTER pfin­ley@sun­times.com | @patrick­fin­ley

The Bears’ three-man bat­tle for one start­ing cor­ner­back spot is down to two after Ar­tie Burns hurt his left knee dur­ing Tues­day morn­ing’s train­ing camp prac­tice.

Burns, a former Steel­ers first-round pick whom the Bears signed to a one-year deal in March, tore his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment, a source said. He’ll miss the sea­son.

Burns, who was helped off the field after fall­ing dur­ing a drill, was set to com­pete with Kevin To­liver and sec­on­dround pick Jay­lon John­son for the start­ing job op­po­site Kyle Fuller.

John­son is the long-term fa­vorite, pre­sum­ing he stays healthy after re­cov­er­ing from right shoul­der surgery that took place in early March. To­liver might be more ready to per­form in Week 1.

Burns was try­ing to re­vi­tal­ize his ca­reer after play­ing only 6 per­cent of the Steel­ers’ de­fen­sive downs last year. He was prac­tic­ing with the first team, though head coach Matt Nagy said it was part of a ro­ta­tion.

“You’ll prob­a­bly end up see­ing more and more reps as the days and weeks go on with Jay­lon, be­cause we need to eval­u­ate,” Nagy said Mon­day, a day be­fore the in­jury. “That’s a very im­por­tant po­si­tion that we need to get right. And only time will tell with reps.”

No fans

One day after the Bears said they won’t have fans at Sol­dier Field for the fore­see­able fu­ture, Nagy said health and safety should be para­mount.

“I trust in ev­ery­body that is mak­ing the de­ci­sions … we’ll see where it ends up,” he said.

The NFL does not have a uni­form pol­icy, mean­ing some states might al­low their sta­di­ums to open at par­tial ca­pac­ity. Oth­ers won’t.

“It will def­i­nitely be dif­fer­ent with­out fans, with­out the noise, with­out every­thing,” quar­ter­back Nick Foles said. “I don’t re­ally know what to ex­pect, but I do know that ev­ery­one will have to deal with it [in the same game]. … So the team that over­comes ad­ver­sity the best is usu­ally the one that’s suc­cess­ful.”

Re­ceiver Cordarrell­e Pat­ter­son, who plays catch with fans be­fore games, doesn’t know who he’ll toss the ball to this sea­son.

“That’s go­ing to be the hard­est thing for me,” he said. “That’s go­ing to hurt me. I’m go­ing to have to throw it out there, no mat­ter who’s out there. Some­body’s go­ing to have to go get it.”

First dust-up

The Bears’ first skir­mish of camp broke out when safety Deon Bush tack­led new tight end Jimmy Gra­ham to the ground dur­ing a drill. Gra­ham jumped up and shoved Bush be­fore team­mates pulled them apart.

The is­sue: Bush was sup­posed to “thud”— make con­tact but not tackle — Gra­ham.

“They’re fine,” Nagy said. “We’re not tack­ling. So for him, every ac­tion has a re­ac­tion. That’s just some of the stuff that you see. We talked about it after­wards, after prac­tice, just guys be­ing smart. We talked about be­ing com­pet­i­tive, but not com­bat­ive.

“It’s all love for one an­other. Ev­ery­body’s good. They’re just play­ing ball, and I think it’s a learn­ing les­son.”

AP

Rookie de­fen­sive back Jay­lon John­son.

SUN-TIMES

Vet­eran de­fen­sive back Kevin To­liver.

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