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Bears notes: High expectations for cornerback Jaylon Johnson entering year two

LAKE FOREST – Tashaun Gipson wants everyone to know they heard it from him first. Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson is in for a big year.

“He is locked in right now, to the point where we’re going to be talking 10 weeks from now and I’m going to remind y’all what I said because I believe in him that much,” Gipson said Thursday.

Gipson, the Bears’ starting safety, has as good a view as anyone on Johnson’s career. A 10th-year veteran, Gipson has been around the block a time or two. He has worked with other great cornerbacks throughout his career.

Gipson knows what it looks like when a young player comes in and wants to be great. He saw it first-hand with former teammate Jalen Ramsey. Gipson and Ramsey were teammates for three seasons together in Jacksonville from 2016-18.

Ramsey, the fifth overall draft pick in 2016, took his game to another level in year two, earning first-team All-Pro honors. Ramsey is now a four-time Pro Bowler and the Los Angeles Rams made him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL last year, giving him a five-year contract worth more than $20 million annually.

Gipson shied away from comparing Johnson to Ramsey, but acknowledged some similarities in the way they work.

“I told [Johnson], I see the jumps that you made from your rookie year to right now was similar to a guy that I knew in Jacksonville who’s now the highest paid corner in the league,” Gipson said. “I hope that Jaylon makes his own print, but I see this jump, it’s just a different focus that he has right now.”

Johnson has caught the eye of general manager Ryan Pace, who said Johnson’s had arguably the best training camp of anyone on the team.

“I can tell he feels way more confident being vocal here, and again, he’s also a well-rounded player,” Pace said.

The 22-year-old is his own harshest critic. He said a week ago that he felt his 2020 season wasn’t all that great. He came in as a second-round draft pick and started Week 1. He proved he could start in the NFL, although a shoulder injury knocked him out of the final three regular season games and the playoffs.

“I wouldn’t say last year was a success,” Johnson said. “For me, I’m not saying it was a bad year, it just wasn’t what I wanted statistically.”

Johnson learned a lot from former Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller. The biggest thing was how to watch film. Fuller carried around his tablet religiously, watching film every chance he had.

“I mean we would go to dinner and Kyle was watching his iPad,” Johnson said. “Just the amount of reps, the amount of hours, the amount of time and sacrifice he would put into taking away a little inch from the offense or finding one thing he could do to try to jump or make a play.”

Johnson apply those lessons to his own career. Gipson believes Johnson has the potential “to be a top five cornerback” this season.

Perriman expected to arrive Monday: New Bears receiver Breshad Perriman should be joining the team Monday. He has not officially signed yet, but the move is expected. The team will have to cut someone from the 53-man roster in order to make room for him.

For Perriman, as well as waiver wire addition Nsimba Webster, that will mean a crash course in the playbook.

“They have to learn the stuff,” coach Matt Nagy said. “It takes a little bit of time, but I think our coaches will do a great job.”

Preseason reps: Nagy believes he has found a happy medium between playing his starters in the preseason and resting them to avoid injury. Two years ago, he barely played the starters in the preseason and it resulted in a slow start.

This year, starting quarterback Andy Dalton saw roughly three quarters of action, while a number of starting offensive linemen played a significant amount. The hope is it pays off next week when the real season begins.

“It was a balance of being able to get the reps for the guys individually, one by one, across all three phases — O, D and special teams — but also try to feel like you come out feeling good about things,” Nagy said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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