Bears Promote CB, Sign Another After Placing Kyler Gordon on IR

Kyler Gordon IR Stroman

Getty The Chicago Bears officially placed starting slot cornerback Kyler Gordon on injured reserve on September 14.

The Chicago Bears will be spending at least the next four games without starting slot cornerback Kyler Gordon in the lineup and are making a few personnel changes at the position to help compensate for the loss in Week 2.

According to the team’s official transaction wire for September 14, the Bears officially placed Gordon — a 2022 second-round pick — on injured reserve Thursday after he injured his hand during their 38-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.

The outlook for Gordon has been grim since Bears insider Brad Biggs said that “the fear there is that the right hand is broken” during his September 12 appearance on 670 The Score’s Mully & Haugh Show. Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said the following day that Gordon would not be practicing on Wednesday, but he declined to provide any further details and insisted the doctors were still evaluating the extent of his injury.

With the move to IR, though, Gordon will not be eligible to return to the 53-man roster until Week 6 at the earliest and could be forced to play with a cast once he does return.

The Bears also promoted sixth-year cornerback Greg Stroman Jr. from their practice squad to the 53-man roster on Thursday and signed undrafted rookie Macon Clark — who spent training camp with them — to fill Stroman’s spot on the practice squad.

Josh Blackwell Could Be Next Man Up for Bears in Slot

The Bears losing Gordon from their secondary adds a little more sting to their blowout loss to the Packers. They have been counting on him to be their nickel cornerback ever since they moved up to draft rookie Tyrique Stevenson in the second round of April’s 2023 NFL draft and seemed encouraged by what he showed them in training camp. Now, after just one game, they have no choice but to pivot to their other options.

For the time being, Josh Blackwell appears to be on the inside track to replace Gordon in the slot for the Bears. He played 134 defensive snaps for the Bears as an undrafted rookie in 2022 and looked to have taken the next step in training camp this summer, making a handful of splash plays in front of the media, including a few interceptions.

“We’re just looking at all of our options,” Eberflus told reporters Wednesday, “but in terms of Blackwell himself, it’s invaluable to be out there and know the position. As we said before, there’s a lot of detail to the position, in that nickel spot, and he’s done a good job in there. He’s been a good special teamer for us, and if we got that route, he’ll do a nice job.”

The only hang-up at the moment is Blackwell’s health. He was limited in Wednesday’s first practice with a hamstring injury, one that could dissuade the Bears from trusting him with the starting nickel role if it is still hampering him heading into the weekend. He was also held out of Thursday’s practice entirely, adding another layer of concern.

Alternatively, the Bears could tab fifth-round rookie Terell Smith to play in the slot, but Eberflus declined to mention who else they were considering for the role specifically. He did add, however, that they “certainly like” the options they have at the position.

Macon Clark Makes Return After Missing Initial Cut

The Bears are most likely going to choose their new slot cornerback from a group of three corners that includes both Blackwell and Smith as well as the newly-promoted Stroman, who started on the perimeter and notched a pick in the Bears’ 2022 finale. It is worth noting, however, that Clark looked good for them in the preseason and now gets a second chance to develop in the system with his return to the practice squad.

Clark — an undrafted rookie out of Tulane — flashed potential working with the second- and third-team defense throughout training camp and got a healthy serving of snaps in the slot during his three preseason performances. According to Pro Football Focus, he played 56 of his 88 preseason snaps in the slot and finished with eight tackles and three defensive stops while allowing just a 50% completion rate (two of four) in coverage.

While Clark is unlikely to make the leap to the 53-man roster unless another injury hits, the Bears were comfortable trusting a few undrafted talents in their secondary in 2022, including Blackwell and safety/cornerback hybrid Jaylon Jones. If their plans for the nickel role crumble over the next few weeks and Clark proves he can be an asset for the team on special teams, it is possible he could earn a game-day promotion at some point.

Read More