To­liver fight­ing for his spot

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY MARK POTASH, STAFF RE­PORTER mpotash@sun­times.com | @MarkPo­tash

Kevin To­liver looked like the first in line to re­place Prince

Amuka­mara when the Bears de­cided to cut the vet­eran cor­ner­back af­ter last sea­son.

To­liver, signed as an un­drafted free agent out of LSU in 2018, started against the Cow­boys in place of an in­jured Amuka­mara in Week 14 last sea­son and split time with him against the Pack­ers, Chiefs and Vik­ings in the fi­nal month. He ap­peared to have passed the au­di­tion.

But then the Bears took Utah cor­ner­back Jay­lon John­son in the sec­ond round of the draft.

“Oh, yeah, I was mo­ti­vated a lot [by that],” said To­liver, who was rated one of the top 10 play­ers in the coun­try coming out of high school in 2015. “I al­ways had a chip on my shoul­der since I’ve been here. It’s just a com­pe­ti­tion thing. I’m not afraid of com­pe­ti­tion.”

That’s a good thing, be­cause the Bears gave To­liver plenty of it in the off­sea­son. Not only did they draft John­son as the even­tual re­place­ment for Amuka­mara, but they also signed for­mer CFL cor­ner­back Tre Rober­son and for­mer Steel­ers first-round pick

Ar­tie Burns in free agency. In fact, with John­son re­cov­er­ing from off­sea­son shoul­der surgery, Burns opened train­ing camp with the first-team de­fense. When Burns tore his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in the sec­ond padded prac­tice Tues­day, To­liver re­placed him.

At this point, it seems like only a mat­ter of time be­fore John­son is healthy and ready to as­sume the start­ing job. Un­less To­liver can con­vince the coaches oth­er­wise.

To­liver said he tried to im­prove his game by spend­ing time in the safeties meet­ings in the off­sea­son.

“Just learn­ing other po­si­tions,” he said. “Learn­ing what every­one else has around me. Learn­ing where my help is at. That just makes the game go slower, so I feel like I have an ad­van­tage there.”

Teach­able mo­ment

Mitch Tru­bisky stepped out of bounds for a sack dur­ing a goalline drill, a mis­take a fourth-year quar­ter­back isn’t sup­posed to make.

“When you have first-and-goal from the 1 … when you are on a scram­ble, you have to throw that ball away. He knows that,” coach

Matt Nagy said. “We told him that. Those are crit­i­cal er­rors that we can’t have. He’s not go­ing to do that again.”

Quinn ramp­ing up

Out­side line­backer Robert

Quinn didn’t par­tic­i­pate in team drills again Thurs­day, but he isn’t in­jured, Nagy said. Like Khalil

Mack, Quinn is be­ing eased into full prac­tice participat­ion.

“Just a com­plete ramp-up,” Nagy said. “For [Quinn], he’s at a point where we just feel like we want to do that. You’ll start see­ing him more and more. We’re re­ally ex­cited for what he’s gonna bring to this de­fense.”

Bears add WR Adams

The Bears put Burns on in­jured re­serve and signed for­mer Vik­ings re­ceiver Rod­ney

Adams. A fifth-round draft pick from South Florida in 2017, he spent his rookie sea­son on the Vik­ings’ prac­tice squad. The Colts signed him in 2018, but he opted to re­tire be­fore that sea­son.

MORRY GASH/AP

Cor­ner­back Kevin To­liver (bring­ing down the Cow­boys’ Michael Gallup) is with the Bears’ first-team de­fense — for now.

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