LAKE FOREST – There isn’t a doubt in Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson’s mind of what he wants to improve on during the final weeks of training camp.
Johnson said that’s been on the top of his mind during training camp after Monday’s practice. While he wishes the Bears were in game week preparing for their season-opener against the Green Bay Packers, Johnson knows that he needs to practice on creating turnovers in order to truly be ready for the start of the season.
“I just need to impact the game and create more turnovers,” Johnson said. “That’s more of my focus.”
Johnson only has one interception during his three years with the Bears. The pick came against Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow in September 2021.
Although he’s become one of the top cornerbacks in the league, Johnson knows he can take his game to another level if he creates more turnovers. Johnson said he feels comfortable with most of the different things he can do as a cornerback, including his technique, his ability to not miss many tackles and his strong coverage.
But Johnson is looking to impact games more and he knows he can do that if gives the ball back to quarterback Justin Fields and the offense.
“I just need to impact the game and create more turnovers, that’s more my focus,” Johnson said. “I just need to go into my week-to-week game film in preparation if I need to play in certain techniques. ... It’s just finding different ways to put myself in positions to create turnovers.”
Johnson has spent time working with the jugs machine, practicing from different angles and positions so that he can become used to taking the ball away. But part of the hopeful change should come from how he approaches throws differently.
“I just need to impact the game and create more turnovers. That’s more of my focus.”— Jaylon Johnson, Bears cornerback
During Monday’s practice, Johnson felt like he had a good chance to intercept an overthrown ball but didn’t make the right play on it. When he got another chance on an overthrown ball not long after, Johnson made the right move and came back to the ball to earn an interception.
“It’s really just making it a priority,” Johnson said. “Making it something that I just go out there and do, not just all the time trying to break the ball up but treating myself as a receiver when the ball gets thrown up in the air.”
The Bears know how important Johnson is to the defense’s success. Although defensive end DeMarcus Walker has watched from the sidelines, he’s been impressed with the defensive culture the Bears have built over the last couple years, especially the leadership from Johnson.
“Just the tenacity of it. The enthusiasm,” Walker said of what impressed him about the Bears defense. “The foundation that [coach Matt Eberflus] and [defensive coordinator Alan Willaims] let the leadership kind of grow. And put down the foundation. … We all have that love and that passion. And the younger guys have no choice but to follow.”
Johnson’s increase in interceptions could also potentially lead to a higher-paying contract down the road. While Johnson realizes how an increase in performance could lead to a bump in salary, he’s only focused on trying to get better.
In order to do that, he needs to create more turnovers.
“That’s all I’m focused on,” Johnson said. “The contract will come. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t, if it does, it does.”