Bears

Chicago Bears CB Jaylon Johnson has no regrets about playing hurt, disagrees with penalty call

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond runs past Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson during the second half Sunday in Chicago.

LAKE FOREST – At one point during Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson had to exit the game. The third-year cornerback was holding his right side and talking with the trainers along the sideline at Soldier Field.

Johnson dealt with an oblique injury all week in practice. He tried to gut through the pain, but it affected him all afternoon.

“It affected me from play one, really,” Johnson said this week at Halas Hall. “And then, even when I felt like I started to feel good, now I’ve got to take on linemen and blockers trying to set edges on that right side and that’s very difficult, kept kind of aggravating it.”

Johnson, who typically plays the entire game, sat out 10 of the 62 defensive snaps in a loss to the Lions. He was not himself in the game, with a couple uncharacteristic mistakes.

Johnson said the oblique injury happened against Miami on Nov. 6. He played through the injury, but woke up in some pain the following morning.

Prior to the Lions game, Johnson and the training staff determined he could play through the injury. It was a matter of pain management.

“My explosiveness, my quick twitch, just really being able to move,” Johnson said when asked what the injury limited. “You need your core to be able to do that.”

On a key third-and-8 in the fourth quarter, with the Lions trailing, Johnson lined up across from Lions receiver Tom Kennedy. The former undrafted rookie blew right past Johnson and caught a 44-yard completion that helped set up the game-winning touchdown a few plays later.

It’s hard to say how much the injury affected Johnson on that play in particular, but he admitted himself that it was bothering him all game.

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said he had no problem with Johnson playing through pain if Johnson felt he could do it.

“If you have something you can play with, and it’s pain — everyone plays with pain,” Eberflus said. “You have guys playing with thumbs and different other things that they have. We expect those guys to get in there and play with the pain if they say they’re ready to play. It’s really up to [trainer Andre Tucker] and the player themselves. Like I said, they’re professional athletes. Once they’re out there, we expect them to make plays.”

Johnson felt if he could help the team in any way, it was worth playing.

“I still feel like there was some things I did good, some areas I helped the team out,” Johnson said. “I feel like that was my end goal.”

Johnson feels better this week, and he has not been listed on the injury report. It was an all-around rough game for him against Detroit. Johnson drew back-to-back illegal hands to the face penalties on another drive earlier in the fourth quarter. The first call was fine, the second one appeared to be a bad call.

Johnson put his hands into the chest of Lions receiver Trinity Benson at the line of scrimmage and knocked him over. Benson injured his knee on the play and wound up in a heap on the ground, which may have made the play look worse than it was. Johnson didn’t think it was a penalty. The call negated a Jack Sanborn interception, which would’ve been huge for the Bears at that stage of the game, up by two possessions.

Instead, Lions running back D’Andre Swift waltzed into the end zone on the next play.

Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams didn’t need to say anything to Johnson about the penalty. He was more upset with how his defense responded afterward – or, rather, didn’t respond.

“They make a call, there’s some adversity,” Williams said. “Now, on really good teams and really good defenses and really good coaches, what you do? You respond in a positive way and you come out better the next play and you stop them.”

Injury report: Running back David Montgomery returned to full participation in practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday due to a personal matter. Tight end Cole Kmet (thigh) and cornerback Kindle Vildor (ankle) were limited participants Wednesday after sitting out a day earlier.

Safety Dane Cruikshank (hamstring), receiver N’Keal Harry (illness), right guard Teven Jenkins (hip) and defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (knee) did not practice Thursday. Cornerback Kyler Gordon (knee) was a full participant Thursday after being limited Wednesday.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.