Third man out: Two battle for CB spot
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.”
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.”
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.”
Rookie defensive back Jaylon Johnson.
Veteran defensive back Kevin Toliver.