Tashaun Gipson: Next step for Jaylon Johnson will be a big one

Veteran safety sees the second-year cornerback building off his impressive rookie year — and becoming a leader in the secondary. “I believe in the next year or two he’ll be a top-five cornerback.”

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Chicago Bears Training Camp

(from left to right) Alex Bars (64), Tashaun Gipson (38) and Jaylon Johnson (33) warm up during Bears training camp at Halas Hall on July 28, 2021 in Lake Forest.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Safety Tashaun Gipson is such a big believer in cornerback Jaylon Johnson, he’s not even afraid of putting the whammy on him.

“I don’t think he gets enough credit,” Gipson, a nine-year veteran and former Pro Bowl player, said of Johnson. “I believe in the next year or two he’ll be a top-five cornerback. That’s a sound bite that I’m willing to put out there because I’ve seen the growth in his game. He really doesn’t have any flaws to his game.”

Johnson, a Week 1 starter last year, was tied for ninth in the NFL with 15 pass breakups, though he didn’t have any interceptions. He missed the last three games of the 2020 regular season and the playoff game because of a shoulder injury, his fourth in the previous four years.

“He had the shoulder injuries — a lot of people who don’t play the game don’t realize those things are pretty vital,” Gipson said. “So he seems healthy. He looks pretty good. He’s in great shape. So a guy like that leading the charge is perfect. We see that, and we feed off that type of stuff. He’s looked at as a leader in this secondary.”

Waiting for Peters

Nine-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jason Peters, who signed a one-year contract with the Bears on Monday, is going through the NFL’s COVID-19 entry testing process, which is a five-day waiting period.

Peters figures to be first in line for the left tackle position when he arrives. The question is how much he has left at 39, after 17 years in the NFL.

“When you watch the tape last year, you see a guy that still has a lot of game left in him,” coach Matt Nagy said. “Are there times when he gets beat? Absolutely. But there’s a lot of great plays on there, too.”

Ledarius Mack cut

The Bears cut linebacker Ledarius Mack, cornerback Michael Joseph of Oswego and wide receiver Justin Hardy to get down to the mandatory 85-player roster limit. Rosters must be trimmed to 80 by Aug. 24 and 53 by Aug. 31.

Grand finale

With the NFL preseason cut from four games to three, the Bears’ final preseason game against the Titans on Aug. 28 in Nashville, Tennessee, will not be just a showcase for players on the fringe of the roster, Nagy said.

Even if Titans coach Mike Vrabel plays his reserves the entire game, at least some Bears starters will participate.

“I think it’s going to lean towards having more guys play than not,” Nagy said, “meaning it’s not going to be your old-school, fourth preseason game where it’s just backups playing. There might be some guys that don’t play at all. There might be a select few that don’t play, but then there might be some starters that do play.”

This and that

According to Next Gen Stats, Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields reached a top speed of 20.39 mph on his 21-yard run against the Dolphins.

Andy Dalton won the quarterback battle Tuesday with impressive completions to Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney — though he was picked off by Eddie Jackson.

• Fields had one snap with the first-team skill players, an apparent completion to Marquise Goodwin. He was more off-target than normal, getting picked off by Marqui Christian and nearly intercepted by DeAndre Houston-Carson.

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