The Bears’ September 27 injury report had four players listed, and all were defensive backs: corners Jaylon Johnson (hamstring), Josh Blackwell (hamstring) and rookie Tyrique Stevenson (illness), along with starting safety Eddie Jackson. Second-year starter Kyler Gordon is currently on injured reserve with a broken hand.
If Johnson, Blackwell and Stevenson all were to miss Chicago’s Week 4 matchup against the Denver Broncos, the Bears have Terell Smith and Jaylon Jones on the roster in addition to Williams. Greg Stroman Jr. is also an option on the practice squad.
Joejuan Williams Spent 3 Years With Patriots
A former second-round pick for the New England Patriots out of Vanderbilt in 2019, Williams played in 36 games (one start) for the Pats from 2019 until 2021. He amassed 44 total tackles (31 solo), a quarterback hit and eight pass breakups in that span.
Over his career, he has played 328 coverage snaps and has allowed 21 receptions on 36 targets (58.3 reception percentage) for 328 yards (15.6 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. Williams seemed poised for a potential breakout after his 2021 campaign, but he spent the 2022 season on IR after injuring his shoulder in August of that year.
The 6-foot-3, 212-pound corner is big for the position, and he’s not particularly speedy, but he’s good at using his body during contested catches. He has primarily played on the outside, but he can also sneak into the box or the slot from time to time if needed.
“Those bigger corners, just because they’re long, they can play physical, I think he’s done a really really great job since he’s gotten here, physically preparing himself as a bigger corner, he’s a very strong player,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said about Williams, via Sports Illustrated. “He’ll cause a lot of problems for us around the line of scrimmage with reroutes and rhythm and timing of passing games. He’s savvy, a smart player, very instinctive.”
Bears Need All the Help They Can Get in Secondary
By signing Williams off of Minnesota’s practice squad, he becomes part of Chicago’s 53-man roster by rule, so he could very well see action Week 4 when the Broncos come to Soldier Field.
Losing Gordon after the first game of the season was a big blow for the Bears secondary, which is allowing 285.7 passing yards per game, the third-most in the NFL.
“We’ve got a lot of great players and things like that. But we’ve just got to all put it together,” Bears starting safety Jaquan Brisker said after practice on September 27. “I would say once we do that, we’ll be a different team. It just has to start with one win, and one win would change a lot. So just focus on every single day of this week and attack the day and attack the week.”
Chicago has also given up 35.3 points a game on defense through three games. The only team to give up more is the Broncos (40. 7 points per game), so the time is now for a Bears team in desperate need of a victory.