Bears Defender Puts League on Notice: ‘I Am No Longer Afraid’

Jaylon Johnson Bears

Getty Jaylon Johnson and Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears move in for the tackle.

Jaylon Johnson is putting the rest of the NFL on notice. The second-year cornerback for the Chicago Bears is going to have to take over the CB1 slot from Kyle Fuller, and Johnson wants everyone to know he’s ready.

“It’s something I’ve been working for my whole life. It’s not just one year,” Johnson said during veteran minicamp June 17 about becoming the team’s top corner. “Just trying to take all of my preparation throughout my years of playing football and being a leader throughout high school, throughout college. It’s no different now being in the NFL. It’s just being able to take what I’ve been doing my whole life, being able to perform and bring others along and teach them the things I learned from last year and just trying to help everybody improve as best as I can.”

He also noted during veteran minicamp that he’s ready, willing and able to play on the right or the left side.

“It doesn’t make any difference to me. I just want to be where the ball’s at, just being able to make plays and impact the defense the best way I can. So I don’t really care which side that’s on.”

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Johnson Says He’s 100% Healthy Heading Into Year 2

Johnson’s draft stock slipped a bit after he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder last spring, and he fell to the second round after initially being projected as a 1st round pick. The Bears scooped him up, and now he’s the future at the position.

He started 13 games for Chicago as a rookie before going down with another shoulder injury, missing the final three games of his rookie campaign. The injury didn’t require surgery this offseason, however, and Johnson’s latest update about his recovery is an encouraging one.

I’m 100% healthy. I’m out there just trying to get better with the guys … I’m good. I’m 100%. But just from last year, the game naturally slows down, getting that year under your belt. For me, just my body is more at ease. My mind is more at ease, being able to see things and being able to have better eyes, a better understanding of what the offense is trying to do and how the defense works as well. It’s just easier mentally, which allows my body to be able to play a little faster. … There was no structural damage. There wasn’t anything major like that. It was just being able to get my shoulder back to 100%. I’m not going to go into the exact details of what exactly happened. But it was just about being able to get to 100%. I’ve been rehabbing, staying on top of my treatment and therapy with my shoulder. I’m just getting back healthy and trying to stay healthy.

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Johnson Puts League on Notice Via Social Media

Per PFF, opposing quarterbacks had a rating of 106.7 when throwing Johnson’s way last year. He showed flashes, with his 14 forced incompletions leading all rookies on the season. His 21.2% forced incompletion percentage last season was the best mark by a rookie outside corner since 2006, per PFF. Johnson also had nine missed tackles, however, so there’s plenty to clean up.

Now, heading into Year 2, the Bears corner is putting the league on notice, saying he’s not going to hold back anymore, noting a “beast” hast been woken.

“I am no longer being afraid of greatness,” he Tweeted. “Greatness comes from pushing your limits and strengthening your weaknesses.”

He will get ample opportunities to shine now that he’s the guy in Chicago. If he can stay healthy, Johnson’s second season could be a memorable one.

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