About an hour before the Bears set foot inside the Walter Payton Center for their Friday practice, Jaylon Johnson went on Instagram to share a message with his followers.
In his Instagram post, which shows him in coverage on Packers wide receiver Sammy Watkins, he wrote, “Gotta Get Back To The Trenches. They Said They Need Me.”
Johnson gave some context to his latest post.
“I felt like it was a little self explanatory, but I mean really … for me it was more so like the absence I feel like coming back I feel like is needed,” Johnson said. “Not even just from the secondary standpoint. Just me being out there back with the team, just getting the team a different confidence boost and things like that. Really just ready to be back out there playing.”
Johnson is absolutely right. The Bears do need him, but he was listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report after being limited in practice due to a quad injury. So it’s still up in the air if the third-year cornerback will be good to go for Sunday’s divisional matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.
For Eberflus, his criteria when determining if a player is capable of playing when dealing with an injury comes down to how they perform in practice.
“Usually it’s how he looks on Friday,” Eberflus said. “He was out there today. Looked pretty good. We don’t have that hard fast rule, but we like to see that — guys come back Friday and move around. It’s 48 hours before the game. We feel pretty good about it and we just let it progress from there and see where he is.”
Johnson’s quad injury occurred in practice following the loss to the Packers, and he was forced to miss the last two games against the Texans and Giants.
Through two games (135 defensive snaps), Johnson has only given up one reception so far this season, according to Pro Football Focus. If Johnson is able to go, he would greatly improve a secondary that will face Justin Jefferson.
The Vikings’ No. 1 wide receiver is ranked 6th in targets (42), receptions (28) and receiving yards (393) this season. Jefferson’s teammate, Adam Thielen, also is capable of hurting opposing defense’s through the air and has done so by catching 21 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown.
If Johnson can’t play on Sunday, then it will likely be the same cornerbacks that played the Giants: Kyler Gordon, Jayon Jones and Kindle Vildor.
Johnson knows the team needs him, and that can’t be said enough for this Week 5 matchup with the Vikings.