John­son ready for some pro foot­ball

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON LIESER, STAFF RE­PORTER jlieser@sun­times.com | @Ja­sonLieser

De­spite the un­cer­tainty about how his re­habbed shoul­der is com­ing along and the ap­pear­ance that the Bears want to take it slow with him, rookie cor­ner­back Jay­lon John­son seems to be in con­tention for a start­ing job.

John­son, a sec­ond-round pick from Utah, has im­pressed coach Matt Nagy enough for

Nagy to de­clare him NFLready.

“You can see the con­fi­dence that he has,” Nagy said. “You have to have short-term mem­ory in this league. He’s got ex­treme con­fi­dence. And it’s not cocky; it’s con­fi­dence. I like that about him.

“He’s got a ways to go. He hasn’t played an NFL game. We’ll see. But in prac­tice so far, I like where he’s at.”

The play that earned Nagy’s ap­proval was an in­ter­cep­tion off Nick

Foles last week. John­son played it per­fectly, fool­ing Foles with vet­eran-like savvy be­fore dart­ing in for the pick.

“That play was all in­stincts,” Nagy said. “Foles asked af­ter­ward, ‘How did you know that play was com­ing?’ He said it was just in­stincts. Nick was sur­prised be­cause he thought his de­fen­sive coaches were scout­ing the play, telling him to fall off and make that pick.”

Jenk­ins’ COVID scare

De­fen­sive tackle John Jenk­ins was one of sev­eral play­ers the Bears put on the re­serve/COVID-19 list in July be­fore prac­tices be­gan. Jenk­ins said Thurs­day it was tense at first, but even­tu­ally the team told him he had a false-pos­i­tive test.

“All the stuff you hear, what’s go­ing on in the news in to­day’s world, I don’t take that as a joke,” Jenk­ins said. “I take it very se­ri­ously. There were a lot of thoughts go­ing through my mind.”

Jenk­ins, 31, never showed symp­toms or had any set­backs as he ramped up for the start of prac­tice. He is one of the top can­di­dates to re­place de­fen­sive tackle Ed­die Gold­man, who opted out of the sea­son be­cause of coro­n­avirus con­cerns.

No­table ab­sences

Sev­eral play­ers, in­clud­ing pass rusher Robert Quinn, were not on the field dur­ing the por­tion of prac­tice open to the me­dia Thurs­day.

Nagy is adamant about not re­veal­ing any in­jury in­for­ma­tion this week, even though he will be re­quired by the NFL to file a de­tailed in­jury re­port Wed­nes­day, so it’s un­clear why those play­ers were ab­sent.

Quinn is be­lieved to have prac­ticed in full only once since ar­riv­ing at Halas Hall, and coaches have in­di­cated he is on his own “ramp up” pro­gram to get ready for the sea­son. The Bears also did not have cor­ner­back Kevin To­liver, of­fen­sive tackle Ja­son Spriggs, line­backer Isa­iah Irv­ing and wide re­ceiver Thomas Ives.

Bur­ris joins staff

One­time Bears quar­ter­back Henry Bur­ris will be on the coach­ing staff all sea­son af­ter prov­ing him­self dur­ing a train­ing-camp stint. The team brought Bur­ris in as part of the NFL’s Bill Walsh Di­ver­sity Coach­ing Fel­low­ship pro­gram.

“He has a lot of good ideas,” Nagy said. “We have a lot of re­spect for who he is and his ex­pe­ri­ence in foot­ball and in gen­eral, so we will bounce him around. We can put him on dif­fer­ent projects and have him maybe look ahead and help us out with fu­ture teams.”

Bur­ris, 45, played six games for the Bears in 2002. He played in the Cana­dian Foot­ball League from 1998 to 2016.

Head start

The Bears must slash their ros­ter from 80 to 53 by Satur­day af­ter­noon.

They got a jump on that by waiv­ing six play­ers: run­ning back Napoleon Maxwell, wide re­ceivers Alex Wes­ley and Ah­mad Wag­ner, of­fen­sive line­man Corey Levin, de­fen­sive line­man Lee Autry and line­backer Ke­an­dre Jones.

NAM Y. HUH/AP

Bears coach Matt Nagy says rookie cor­ner­back Jay­lon John­son (33) is ex­tremely con­fi­dent but not cocky.

Henry Bur­ris

John Jenk­ins

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